Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Troubled Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Rescued as Relativity Files for Bankruptcy (Updated) Troubled Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Rescued as Relativity Files for Bankruptcy (Updated) 'The Witch' Won't Open Until 2016, But Its Sundance-Winning Director Has a New Film 'The Witch' Won't Open Until 2016, But Its Sundance-Winning Director Has a New Film Charles Aidikoff Screening Room Shutters: End of an Era for LA Critics? Charles Aidikoff Screening Room Shutters: End of an Era for LA Critics? How HBO's 'Ballers' Fails Sports Fans How HBO's 'Ballers' Fails Sports Fans Michael Moore Reveals Stealth NSA Project 'Where to Invade Next' on Periscope Michael Moore Reveals Stealth NSA Project 'Where to Invade Next' on Periscope Showtime Chief on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' Revival: "It's His Show" Showtime Chief on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' Revival: "It's His Show" Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Discover the Brothers Quay, Identical Twin Animators Who Inspired Christopher Nolan Discover the Brothers Quay, Identical Twin Animators Who Inspired Christopher Nolan Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) Top 10 Takeaways: Holdover 'Ant-Man' Tops Blah Week, Summer Slot for 'Southpaw' Pays Off Top 10 Takeaways: Holdover 'Ant-Man' Tops Blah Week, Summer Slot for 'Southpaw' Pays Off Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Scott Foundas Explains Why He's Leaving Film Criticism--Again--for Amazon Studios Scott Foundas Explains Why He's Leaving Film Criticism--Again--for Amazon Studios Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Watch: The Secret Ingredient to David Lynch's Disorienting Cinema Watch: The Secret Ingredient to David Lynch's Disorienting Cinema First Look: 'No' Director Pablo Larraín Channels 'Neruda' with Gael García Bernal First Look: 'No' Director Pablo Larraín Channels 'Neruda' with Gael García Bernal Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991 Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991

Venice: David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method Review and Press Conference

Thompson on Hollywood By David Gritten | Thompson on Hollywood September 2, 2011 at 6:06AM

David Gritten reviews David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method from the Venice Film Festival. It's a rave. David Cronenberg brought his Freud-Jung movie A Dangerous Method to Venice today, and received an enthusiastic reception from a packed press screening. Stars Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender and Keira Knightley joined him on the press conference, along with his long-time collaborator, producer Jeremy Thomas and co-stars Vincent Cassel and Sarah Gadon.
2
Thompson on Hollywood

David Gritten reviews David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method from the Venice Film Festival. It's a rave.

David Cronenberg brought his Freud-Jung movie A Dangerous Method to Venice today, and received an enthusiastic reception from a packed press screening. Stars Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender and Keira Knightley joined him on the press conference, along with his long-time collaborator, producer Jeremy Thomas and co-stars Vincent Cassel and Sarah Gadon.

Cronenberg, a popular figure in Venice, was in jovial mood – heartened by the ovation for a difficult film. He pointed out this was the 68th Venice Festival and he himself is 68. (Cue applause.) The festival’s opening film was The Ides of March – and his birthday is March 15. How about that? As the auteur of a new film with a major character (Carl Jung) who doesn’t believe in coincidence, this was pretty goofy.

Anyway, on to the movie itself:

Talky, cerebral and intensely complex in its depiction of a fraught three-cornered relationship, A Dangerous Method is quite unlike any other film by Cronenberg, still widely associated with blood, gore and body parts. Set between 1904 and 1913, it tackles the struggle between Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) and Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) to establish their supremacy at the dawn of the era of psychoanalysis.

The future and well being of Sabina Spielrein, a troubled young Russian woman played by Keira Knightley, becomes the defining issue between the two men. Aged 18, she arrives at a Zurich hospital to be treated by Jung. She's in a distressing state, flinching from human contact and contorting her body and face in grotesque gestures of pain and terror.

Cronenberg has coaxed a performance from Knightley so ferocious in these early scenes that it seems likely to become the film's main talking point. It's also a risky strategy, as Sabina's behaviour is extreme to the point of being alienating.

Yet it also underlines the intensity of the stakes of the rivalry between Freud and Jung, which comes to resemble a father-son struggle. Jung experiments on Sabina with his innovative “talking cure,” the earliest form of psychoanalysis, encouraging her to recall her feelings as a child when her father beat her.

Jung, married to a rich, sedate woman (Sarah Gadon) who bears him children, finally admits his repressed lust for Sabina, and they embark on an affair. (She enjoys being hit.) The liaison appalls Freud. The scene in which Jung takes her virginity is one of the few classic Cronenberg moments.

Much of this material (adapted from Christopher Hampton's play. The Talking Cure) is frankly uncinematic, and Cronenberg has compensated with sumptuous locations – Swiss lakes, opulent houses and ravishing costumes – Knightley is decked out in an impressive series of blouses, bustles and corsets.

The main performances are fine, with Fassbender conveying seething emotion beneath a calm veneer. But it’s Knightley one remembers, for a full-on portrayal that is gutsy and potentially divisive in equal parts.

This article is related to: Directors, Festivals, Genres, David Cronenberg, Telluride, Drama


E-Mail Updates








Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.