Monday, December 26, 2011

David Cronenberg - A Dangerous Method (2011)

As a preface I'd like to admit that as far as film critics go, I'm kind of a slacker. Unless a movie is just an atrocious mess and I must entertain myself by dissecting it in a humorous manner (recently, Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale comes to mind, although I'm still unsure if that was just hilariously bad or a brilliantly subtle Michael Bay parody), I generally like to get lost in the fictional boundaries and not analyze it until afterwards, where the sum is often more apparent to me than the parts. I also tend to not re-watch movies very often, so unless I'm already infatuated with a movie (in which case my impressions will most likely be wildly hyperbolic anyways), its rare that I'll study a movie with several revisits. My point is that I like watching movies far more than I like writing or talking about them (both of which I do enjoy), so my film write-ups are far more casual than my music ones, and can typically be reduced to me either hating, being impartial to, liking, or loving, as opposed to getting really in depth. The only movie I can think of off the top of my head that I've felt an urge to truly analyze was Antichrist, and I may one day get around to posting my lengthy thoughts about it on here.

Moving on, there are a lot of arguments to be made against Keira Knightley. If you've ever seen her speak in interviews, you know she is a naturally obnoxious person. She's the type of girl who brings to mind a spoiled English princess ("But fother, I wont a poooooe-ny!"). That being said, I thought her portrayal of Sabina Spielrein in A Dangerous Method was one of the best performances of the year. Many will disagree, and say she overacted but I feel she played her character exceptionally well. Fassbender, Mortensen, Cassel, the girl who played Jung's wife, and hell, even the minor characters and extras were all very believable as well. Knightley especially though - not only was she a convincing schizoid, which is one of the most difficult parts an actor/actress can play, but she also had to forge a Russian accent on top of it, which makes the role even more difficult.

The film is a drama, and although there are some very intense erotic scenes, it is largely dialogue based and will likely bore some. Had it not been for the subject matter and the historical people/events it was focused on, which I find very interesting, I would have probably been bored as well. Although heavy, the dialogue was nearly impeccable throughout. In classic Cronenberg fashion, there are a few lines that are hilarious and a few that will linger in your memory for some time after ("I'll gently rip you to shreds"). Howard Shore's Wagner-inspired theme (featured in the trailer) is wonderfully suiting - I'd even say one of the better main themes for a film in the past several years. The cinematography was some of Cronenberg's finest as well. This was just a really well-made film, all around. Saying that it's Cronenberg's best would be difficult because its vastly different from his 80s work such as Videodrome and his 90s work such as Naked Lunch and Crash and it's hard to offer comparison with such different styles. He has transcended his reputation for being a gimmicky 'body violence' master and has showed with his recent films that he is capable of much more. To call him competent, would be a discredit to his talent - he is much more than that and his latest is my third favorite film I've seen this year.

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