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New Release Review - A Dangerous Method


Directed by: David Cronenberg
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen, Vincent Cassell, Sarah Gadon

Cronenberg is that brand of film-maker I struggle to appreciate, an intellectual.
His movies are devoid of emotion and while that helped make him a unique voice in the horror genre I don't think his cold style works well with more dramatic fare. His movies are like a metaphor for his native Canada, too European to be American, too American to be European. The one thing you can say is that he is always the controlling force behind his movies, a sort of Woody Allen of the shadows, but here it feels his cast have pushed him aside and it's ultimately to the film's detriment.
Something that always riles me is when a cast can't agree whether to attempt accents or not. In Fincher's remake of "Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" he keeps the story in Sweden yet while some actors try their best at Scandinavian accents, some just stick with their own. Here, as Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, Mortensen and Fassbender speak in that kind of Mid-Atlantic neutral dialect, ironic given the Teutonic heritage of both actors. Knightley though goes all out at an awful attempt at a Russian accent. As if this wasn't bad enough she employs a range of ridiculous mannerisms that render this the worst performance by a mainstream actress I've seen in many years.
The director's attempt to make this movie as cold and passionless as the characters involved quickly backfires. Discussing bizarre sexual fetishes with straight faces while stroking their whiskers, the two leads turn this movie into little more than an extended "Two Ronnies" sketch.
While the director and his leads may have damaged their reputations, in the background a lot of impressive work was done on this movie. Cinematographer Peter Suschitzky, Production Designer James McAteer, and Costume Designer Denise Cronenberg can all be proud of the visual elegance they gave this film. Much more so than "The Woman In Black", this looks like a classic Hammer Studios production.
3/10

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