Aisle in the Mind or The Talking Snore

A Dangerous Method” introduced me to three equally unexpected firsts: being bored by a David Cronenberg film; finding Michael Fassbender unattractive; and appreciating Keira Knightley’s acting.

Knightley (who the great Mark Kermode joyfully re-named ‘Ikea’ to reflect her lack of dramatic ability) plays Sabina Spielrein, a hysterical patient under Jung’s experimental psychoanalytical care. Knightley’s full throttle performance complete with jutting jaw (seemingly on the point of dislocation), bared teeth and Russian accent is a huge step up for her as an actress; indeed I had expected her role to be the weak link in this triangle with Sigmund Freud (played by Viggo Mortensen) and Carl Jung (Fassbender). Yes she is ‘Acting’ with a capital A but I am intrigued to see where she goes next, having previously avoided her films.

I approve heartily of the fact that recently Fassbender has been regularly on our screens: as Magneto, Mr.Rochester and the sexually compulsive Brandon in “Shame” all great performances allowing you to understand these flawed characters making poor choices whilst remaining beautifully haunted. So it is astonishing to me, particularly given the focus of psychoanalysis on the sexual drivers underpinning human behaviour, how unattractive he is made in this film.  Jung is a character struggling to balance irreconcilable desires to both maintain a civilised life with his rich wife whilst indulging in sexual freedom. I found myself laughing at him rather than feeling for him.

Cronenberg has given us a restrained, perhaps even repressed, film with none of the daring for which he is famed. This is a film which could have been directed by anyone, plotting is pedestrian throughout and the work never breaks out from its stage roots. Well acted, beautifully shot, but deeply dull.

4 Comments

  1. Anna
    Feb 23, 2012

    Fantastically funny first sentence! I didn’t want to see this anyway but interesting that it’s not for the reasons I’d assumed.

  2. Sue Baker
    Feb 25, 2012

    It’s a great review but I find myself being surprised by two things in it (not three!)
    First that anyone could rate Mark Kermode at all (unless the reference to ‘great’ was tongue in cheek) and secondly the criticism of Knightley’s acting. I think she’s been excellent in some films, in particular The Duchess.

    • miranda
      Feb 27, 2012

      Sue – I think that we are going to have to agree to differ on the two Ks!
      I love Mark Kermode so much that I have been to see his radio review show recorded live (and believe his only serious misjudgement to be his hatred of the first Sex and the City film). As for The Duchess, I spent the whole film wishing that Hayley Attwell had been given the lead, rather than the supporting role. Sorry!

      • Sue Baker
        Mar 3, 2012

        No worries, we’ll disagree amicably. D got me on to the Sex and the City series which I loved, but I didn’t like the films so I guess the great K and I agree sometimes!

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