There might not be a more interesting director working today than David Cronenberg. The quiet Canadian that brought us Rabid, Scanners and Videodrome in the 1970ís-80ís has provided audiences with some interesting and diverse pieces of work over the past few years. From Crash (9996) to eXistenz (1999) through A History of Violence (2005) and Eastern Promises (2007), Cronenberg seems in stride as he provides audiences with thought provoking films that challenge our senses.
Teaming up with Eastern Promisesí Viggo Mortensen, Croneberg is back after a four year absence with A Dangerous Method, a film that depicts the professional relationship between Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and Sigmund Freud (Mortensen) as they develop the science of psychoanalysis.
The two doctors (Freud, Jung) strain their relationship with their differing opinions on the practical application of psychoanalysis on patients. Jung is anxious to use the therapy on patients while Freud is more apt to simply address any behavior deviating from a societal normality to the patient themselves.
A Dangerous Method opens in the early 1900ís where we get introduced to Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley). Sabina is clinically mad and is sent to a mental institution where she goes under the care of Dr. Jung. Jung uses the technique developed by his mentor Freud in the treatment of Sabina and through these intense talking sessions, Sabina eventually finds her way back to a sane reality. Sabina and Dr. Jung will eventually become lovers that only further drives a wedge between the two contracting doctors.
Cronenberg is deliberate in developing an intricate and engrossing story surrounding the three main characters. Mortensen and Fassbender shine in their respective roles and Cronenberg gives us plenty of scenes to show us that the two could not be further apart in personal opinions. Freud is a more reserved and private man while Jung subjects his own wife to psychoanalysis experiments for the purposes of furthering his doctrine.
Keira Knightley is clearly out of her league here. Her Ďmadnessí at the filmís opening was not portrayed with a believable vigor and although she fades into the background when Fassbender or Mortensen is in the same room, we canít help but note that Knightley was miscast in a pivotal role.
Based on a screenplay by Christopher Hampton (Atonement), the dialogue in A Dangerous Mind is incredibly smart. Maybe, too smart. The back and forth between Freud and Jung is very well written, but it doesnít do much to scratch the surface and give us a better more approachable attachment to the two main leads.
Still, Cronenberg has weaved his magic and made a film that would likely to fail miserably under the direction of another forerunner. Mortensen seems to do his best work under Cronenberg and the pairing would be welcomed as the next Scorsese/DeNiro if they so choose to team up again.