by Alexander Huls Tuesday March 27, 2012

A Dangerous Method with Viggo Mortensen and Michael Fassbender

Every now and then you watch a movie and as the credits role you think: “Well, that was a movie. It did enough to exist.” It’s not that the movie necessarily does anything wrong, it’s just that it doesn’t really do anything to distinguish itself, to poke its head out far enough to risk being anything worth really engaging with. It’s simply competent.

That’s David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method to me.

It’s certainly not that it’s a bad movie. In fact, head over to Rotten Tomatoes and you can be assured it isn’t. Or, stay right here to let me assure you it is expertly made. It’s well acted by the film’s three leads, it’s beautifully shot, it’s lovingly scored, it’s narrative structure is sound, and it’s meticulously designed to immerse you easily in its place and time. The problem is that it isn’t just made, it feels made. There’s an energy missing here. It feels like the movie is taking the little Lego blocks that can make up a film and dutifully following the pre-set pattern as opposed to creating something unique or inventive.

It’s a shame, because there’s little doubt that David Cronenberg is a director who has infused film with a distinct energy and inventiveness. But it seems A Dangerous Method is evidence of a particular decline for the director. For all its fan-fare, Eastern Promises was always a good gangster film, but never a good Cronenberg movie. A Dangerous Method dilutes Cronenberg’s Cronenbergness to the point where he almost disappears all together. The only thing that keeps him fresh in mind is that a filmmaker so famously fixated on the mixture of sex and violence would of course be a perfect fit for a story about Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and the birth of psychoanalysis.

That story is, of course, interesting and for all my quibbling it’s hard to not deny how fascinating it is to see the relationship of Jung and Freud – and the men themselves – explored. Plus, anyone who has heard the articulate Cronenberg discuss sex and violence can readily see the echoes – or more appropriately, the origins – of his thoughts running through both doctors conversations in the film. It’s equally interesting to see the creation of psychological concepts we now use every day presented at a point and time where it’s all so novel and revolutionary.

A Dangerous Method Blu-RayThe problem isn’t ultimately that A Dangerous Method is uninteresting. It’s that it’s uninspired. A movie can be as interesting as possible, but without some force driving it beyond that, it will never amount to anything that is just blandly … there.

About the Disc: The gorgeous cinematography and settings of A Dangerous Method naturally lend themselves well for HD, and they do not disappoint on the Blu-Ray. The interviews featured on the disc are worth checking out if only to gleam a bit more about the interesting backstories of the real people being played here, and to hear the always articulate and entrancing David Cronenberg speak.

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