On DVD/Blu-ray – A Dangerous Method (2011)
by NIR SHALEV
When David Cronenberg deals in the grotesque he’s more hit than miss with my taste, so when he decided to tone down his style and focus on a more realistic vision, following normal, everyday people, I grew slightly upset. That being said, A History of Violence (2005) is one of the goofiest films that I’ve ever seen and Eastern Promises (2007) is one of the best and most accurate (toward its roots) crime thrillers of its decade. Now comes his take on the birth of psychoanalysis and the end result is great.
Michael Fassbender plays Carl Jung, the famous Swiss therapist whose latest, surprisingly effective technique of communicating with his patients is to sit in a chair behind them and to simply talk to them. His latest patient, Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) is tic-riddled and hysterical, and has masochistic tendencies. As Jung talks to her, uncovering the darkness formed within her psyche, and as the months, if not years, go by she improves magnificently. Sabina then becomes Jung’s personal assistant because she is a student of psychotherapy and eventually they become lovers. But secrets are seldom kept in elite circles.
Jung’s mentor and sort-of-best-friend Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) helps him wherever he can with the progression of his psychoanalytical studies, as well as love advice in regards to his wife and his mistress. Their brilliant friendship eventually crumbles due to conflicting interests.
A Dangerous Method is terrifically involving, intriguing, kinky, expertly shot, and terrifically acted. The cinematography alone is worth the price of admission (or in this case rental). Fassbender and Mortensen are excellent as usual, and Knightley brings tremendous talent to the screen (personally, for the first time). Her personification of the disturbed Sabina is both fascinating and melancholic; her ticks, screams, contortions, jaw clicks, and speech impediment are truly disturbing and are performed with great conviction.
Cronenberg took it relatively easy on us during the last seven years, although his odd and horrific-type films are making a comeback later this year. A Dangerous Method is a cross between a historical melodrama and a sleeping beast that’s not to be trifled with. You are afraid of what’s beneath the surface but once you open Pandora’s Box you can’t look away.
The DVD and Blu-ray special features are an audio commentary with director David Cronenberg; The Making of A Dangerous Method; AFI’s Harold Lloyd Master Seminar with David Cronenberg; theatrical trailers; previews; BD-Live (Blu-ray only).
Other new releases this week: Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close