Thursday, December 22, 2011

What I Saw: A Dangerous Method

What I Saw:   A Dangerous Method

Some stories are about a series of actions that fit neatly into a linear construct. Others are about the discovery of grand ideas that lend themselves to exposition. But what if the story you want to tell is about the unconscious itself?

Each character in David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method lives within the psychoanalytical theories that made them famous. Sabina Spielrien (Keira Knightley) screams, twitches and cowers as she slowly comes to understand the simultaneously destructive and transformative nature of sexuality. Her doctor, Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender), struggles to embrace his self against the societal structures that dictate respectable behavior. Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) has by this point internalized the role of father figure which Otto Gross (Vincent Cassel) rejects in the spirit of anarchy and sexual liberation.

The true protagonist of the film, however, is the unconscious, which never appears on screen. (How could it?) Cronenberg uses every narrative tool at his command to uncover this internal world, from the art direction and costume design common of intellectual biopics to ample exposition of these ideas in the form of both dialogue (the talking cure) and old-fashioned letter writing. One could even argue that the designated patient at the beginning of the film ends up being the most psychologically healthy precisely because of a willingness to embrace the unconscious, while the other characters become more and more trapped inside their respective theories as a punishment for merely studying it.

Oscar Chances:

Costume Design: Denise Cronenberg (currently ranked 4)
Art Direction: James McAteer and Gernot Thondel (currently ranked 6)
Supporting Actor: Viggo Mortensen (currently ranked 11)
Lead Actress: Keira Knightley (currently ranked 11)
Adapted Screenplay: Christopher Hampton (currently ranked 11)
Cinematography: Peter Sushitzky (currently ranked 12)
Makeup (currently ranked 10 in a field of 3)
Best Picture (currently ranked 14)
Lead Actor: Michael Fassbender (currently ranked 14)
Best Director: David Cronenberg (currently ranked 15)
Film Editing: Ronald Sanders (currently ranked 28)
Original Score: Howard Shore (currently ranked 8, will likely fall in my next predictions)
Supporting Actor: Vincent Cassel (currently unranked)

As always, check the Tracker Pages in the upper right hand corner of this blog for the most updated predictions in all categories!

My Lamb Score: 3 ½ out of 5 Lambs
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Read more of my reviews HERE.


  1. Good review my dude. The performances are good, even though Knightley may be over-acting quite a bit, and it looks great, but the film also just feels like a series of vignettes with no real feeling or drama to it. Basically what I’m trying to say was that I was bored and this story just never really got off the ground.

  2. Seems the more I read about it the less excited I get about this film, but I still want to see it just because it's Cronenberg.

  3. @Dan O., Sorry that you didn't enjoy it as much.

    @Bonjour Tristesse, I know what you mean about expectations. At the beginning of the year I was thinking this might be Cronenberg's chance to win best picture/director. It's not in that caliber, but is a solid indie biopic flick that looks at interesting ideas.