New to DVD is David Cronenberg’s A DANGEROUS METHOD(M).
Sex, sex, sex. Is that Michael Fassbender ever thinks about? Fresh from his shenanigans in SHAME where he unashamedly showed his schlong, here he is a shrink and Carl Jung no less!
The story begins in Zurich, 1904. 29-year-old psychiatrist Carl Jung is at the beginning of his career, and lives with his pregnant wife Emma (Sarah Gadon) at Burgholzli hospital. Inspired by Sigmund Freud’s work, Jung tries Freud’s experimental treatment known as psychoanalysis, or ‘the talking cure,’ on 18-year-old Sabina Spielrein, played with jut-jawed ferocity by Keira Knightley.
Sabina is a well-educated Russian who speaks fluent German, has been diagnosed with hysteria, and is known to be disruptive and violent. In talks with Jung, she reveals a childhood marred by humiliation and beatings from her authoritarian father. The psychoanalysis uncovers a disturbing sexual element to her dysfunction, which upholds Freud’s theories connecting sexuality and emotional disorders. More than slap and tickle, Sabina likes to be spanked.
Through his correspondence on Sabina’s case, Jung forges a friendship with Freud, a splendid Viggo Mortensen, teaming up with Cronenberg for a third time after the superb A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE and EASTERN PROMISES. Relationships deepen between Jung and Freud, who sees Jung as his intellectual heir, and between Jung and Sabina, who is brilliant despite her ailment.
Freud asks Jung to treat a fellow psychiatrist, Otto Gross, played in ultra louche bravura by Vincent Cassel. Jung is intrigued by Gross’s defiant and clever arguments against monogamy. After being influenced by Gross, Jung pushes aside his own ethics and gives in to his feelings for Sabina. They enter into a sexual tryst, violating the doctor/patient relationship.
Says director Cronenberg, “With A DANGEROUS METHOD, I sought to make an elegant film that trades on emotional horror, but loses none of its power to seduce. I was stimulated by offbeat and intimate details that illuminate the three leads themselves, and that give a sense of what it must have been like to be at once trapped and liberated by their cerebral and physical bonds. It was a strange ménage à trois, not that Sabina had any sexual relations with Freud, but still there was love in each part of the triangle, including between Jung and Freud; there was an incredible affection and friendship between them.”
With a terrific script by Christopher Hampton derived from his stage play and dazzling dueling dialogue, A DANGEROUS METHOD continues Cronenberg’s contrapuntal fascination with the normal and the bizarre, and works like an amalgam of two of his previous films, SPIDER and DEAD RINGERS, and is certainly more accessible than his most recent film COSMOPOLIS which opens in cinemas this week.
© Richard Cotter
1st August, 2012
Tags: Sydney Movie Reviews- A DANGEROUS METHOD, New DVD release