A Dangerous Method (2011) Directed by David Cronenberg

Sex in its various forms dominates our news. Recently we've had Miley Cyrus and her new career, an exorbitant amount of nothing based on the old edifice: sex sells. Sex brings the controversy, just think of Rihanna & Shakira's latest lesbian lust fest. Doing it for girl power or doing it for the boys? It's the reason why an over-20-year-old case of child abuse/ custody battles dominates the social media pages. IT'S DIRTY & SALACIOUS. And guess what, it makes for a Twitter bonanza. Do we have a considered opinion? Who cares, everyone is else is doing it so why won't I? So Woody Allen's reputation is fully tarnished. The amount of people I've spoken to who have not followed the case but just know the equation, child abuse allegations + Woody Allen = guilty, is phenomenal. He's being vilified for starting a relationship with a much younger woman who happened to be his own kid's step sister. This is the kind of alleged sex crime we get obsessed with, and enough info for most people to brand Allen an abuser. Dirty salacious rumor, innuendo and sex obsessive behavior brings us nicely to A Dangerous Method (this kind of thing has been going on for years you know).

James Woods & Debbie Harry in Videodrome (1983)
David Cronenberg has been delving into the kinky stuff for years, it's why he's remained so fascinating and essential. A quick view through his filmography will tell you James Woods stomach had a vagina like slit and Debbie Harry puts cigarettes out on her tits in Videodrome (and Debbie loves it). In The Fly Geena Davis can't get enough of Jeff Goldblum's libido even as he turns into an insect. Dead Ringers has twin brother gynecologists fucking the same woman. Naked Lunch has typewriters for arseholes who like a good bit of S&M in the homosexual haven of William Burroughs imagined Tangier. Crash on a simplistic level deals with car crashes bringing on orgasms. Even the naked sauna fight in Eastern Promises has sexual undertones. Cronenberg, more so than say David Lynch is the master of exploring the darkest demons of sex for the big screen. A Dangerous Method takes us to the psychological start and heart of the manner. A period piece following the blooming relationship between Jung and Freud and the birth of psychoanalysis is always bubbling with repressed sexual tension. If anything disappoints about A Dangerous Method (and really it doesn't) is that Cronenberg keeps the kinky desire to a minimum.

Holly Hunter in Crash (1996)
The three principles, Michael Fassbender (Jung), Viggo Mortensen (a far too good looking Freud) and Keira Knightley (as Jung's patient then lover, Sabina Spielrein) all excel. A Dangerous Method has old ambitions such as letting the actors carry the drama, and the film is well served by these excellent performances. In fact, A Dangerous Method could easily be a period companion to Dead Ringers, the themes discussed are similar. As Jung and Freud's relationship, theories and ideals crumble and diversify from each other, Cronenberg gives us the feeling that Sabina's ideas and worldview is far ahead of the two disagreeing doctors'. The irony is palpable. One can say of course that each case study is different. A Dangerous Method shows us how Freud and Jung analyzed the peculiar sexual ticks that lied in the subconscious and affected the waking hours. They at least considered these possibilities and put them out in the open for the shocked seemingly conservative aristocracy. Nothing much has changed in the passing 100 or so years, we still find stories of abnormal sexual behavior off-limits yet are drawn to them almost compellingly, if in some cases, irrationally.

Fassbender as Jung &  Mortensen as Freud in A Dangerous Method.

First my preconceptions: I don't like Keira Knightley very much but I do like Viggo Mortensen. I wanted to see this movie ever since I saw the posters in early 2012 thinking it's some kind of a kinky cerebral film whereby I can enjoy porn while pretending to be high-minded...Then I had some fear, because sometimes in the past Cronenberg has really managed to make me uncomfortable.

We finally got around to this movie after my birthday, because Nick had ordered it from somewhere online as one of my gifts (but it came late and I got it another day in the mail – not as bad as last Christmas when Nick forgot to give me one of my presents and it remained in his underwear shelf until I reminded him that I thought I was getting a specific book from yet another online store..). Anyway, presents are always fun – and so was A Dangerous Method. It was fun in the way that a good old-fashioned  story can be; dry storytelling with great understated acting. Not too much plot and more tension than action. Rare these days.

Most of all, the birth of psychoanalysis, Freud and Jung, the early 1900s and everything that was going on in Europe and globally is very interesting. This film chooses to depict a very small event in that time. While people still dressed differently than now, it seems that despite a more coded and rigid social structure, everything else was pretty much how it is now – a 100 years later. Keira Knightly was excellent in this movie, I will admit. Her rise from a patient into a peer (and then a lover) is very believable although of course we know that usually women did not rise into any such meaningful social role after being treated for 'hysteria'. I took a fascinating class on Freud and feminism some years ago in Uni and it has left me with a strange warmth towards his theories and their endless new interpretations.
And when he is played by Viggo Mortensen I have no objections.


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