Friday, September 2, 2011

VENICE: "A Dangerous Method" Reactions

And with that yet another film is brought to ground level in terms of my expectations. As it turns out, not even the best directors are free from folly, and David Cronenberg has been somewhat due for a fall. That doesn't at all state my opinion on these reviews right out of the gate, does it? Indeed the Oscar slate has become bent somewhat unpredictably since Venice start, with "The Ides of March" taking a moderate fall, if only a moderate one. "A Dangerous Method" may be in a similar sort of situation, as the first reviews I really see are from Guy Lodge, whose opinion quite often opposes the view of the Academy.

So to do some further digging, as much is often needed, opposition isn't quite so heated, but it does give credence to my earlier theory that this would be a lesser effort of Cronenberg. Those hoping for something kinkier should've dropped those ideas off at the trailer. Much debate is already abounding at Cronenberg's skills at play this time around, some in defense, others in attack. Keira Knightley is getting the lion's share of praise as the more dramatically frantic of the group, with Mortensen right behind her. Oddly enough, I'm hearing a lot more about Vincent Cassel's prowess in a cameo appearance than I am about Michael Fassbender's leading performance. I remain on the outside of casting judgment until I see it, but these reviews certainly have me making heavy considerations.

Todd McCarthy (Hollywood Reporter): "Despite having to cover stages in the trio's relationships spread over many years, Hampton's screenplay utterly coheres and never feels episodic. The dialogue is constantly confronting, articulate and stimulating, the intellectual exchanges piercing at times. Cronenberg's direction is at one with the writer's diamond-hard rigor; cinematographer Peter Suschitzky provides visuals of a pristine purity augmented by the immaculate fin de l'epoch settings, while the editing has a bracing sharpness than can only be compared to Kubrick's."

David Gritten (The Telegraph; *** out of 5): "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."

Guy Lodge: (In Contention; **1/2 out of 4): "Knightley seems most married to a stage-oriented conception of the material: a divisively mannered actress even in her strongest work, she enters the film in a heightened, twisting frenzy, shrieking abrasively in a Russian accent whose artifice even sounds studied and jutting out her lower lip to a degree to a contortive degree that has had more than one Lido wag joking that Cronenbergian body-horror is at least alive and well in her jaw. It’s an all-or-nothing thespian gambit that doesn’t pay off, but it leaves the actress with nowhere to go but down: the performance levels as the character approaches cure, though Knightley’s archness remains in place."

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