Dangerous Method, A (UK - DVD R2)
Marcus hangs with a hysterical Knightly while Fassbender asks questions...
David Cronenberg tells the story of Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) as he takes on a female patient suffering from hysteria. Sabina Spielrein’s (Keira Knightley) mental state is fractured due to her father’s abuse and Jung’s approach to her treatment follows that of his mentor Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen). When Jung finds himself more attracted to Sabrina and his belief in Frued’s teaching begins to waver, the discussions regarding sexual desires and the human ability to restrict it comes into play and the trio’s views on life begins to change.
From the opening scenes having Keira Knightly showing the full effects of hysteria, Cronenberg goes for the striking approach to this story of psychoanalysing and desire. He keeps the film well paced and steady and makes straight to the point strides in this ninety five minute movie that other directors would take three hours to do. This works for the film because each scene, that is layered with plenty of thoughts of theories on what drives our characters to do the things they are doing feel focused as it plays with the multiple layers of the story.
Knightly is surprisingly brave in this one. Her accent is all over the shop (Russian? American? English?) but the performance itself is full of bold depictions of mental illness and psychically her character is totally different to anything Knightly has done before. Fassbender also carries himself with that upper class refined air he’s mastered over his rise to fame and even though Viggo is in a reduced role compared to his co-stars, his confident and strong performances as Freud has the desired knock on effect to the characters he interacts with.
I actually really liked A Dangerous Method. I like a film that isn’t scared to build most of its dialogue with studies of human psychology. Every scene seems to have two or three layers to it and I found myself questioning who’s theories were right and how much ego plays a part in human studies. The sexual angle was very well handled and felt a key element to Keira’s character, rather than an excuse to get an actress to get mucky on screen. There was an emotional strength to scenes that darkened the film as it backed up the acts with a psychological foundation. This mood resonates through the film and while you would never consider the film a horror, it’s darker undertones via Frued and Jung’s every increasing feud and Sabina’s obsession with Jung had moments with real weight.
There's a distinct softness to this DVD release but everything else is quite pretty. Everyone has a nice pink skin tones, within warm well lit scenes with great shadowing. Blacks vary due to the teal colouring of the film. Fassbender's black costume against the deep green leaves and blue skies looks fantastic but given a change of location and his outfit turns to a deep blue. This tealness also amplifies blue eyes, to almost alien levels and the scenes set on the water boost all blues to the point where everything in the background seems like a variation on turquoise. There natural lighting helps the film to get past most of this and offers up some pretty good detail from time to time but there's no escaping the standard definition here and the softness really holds back the transfer from shining.
From Knightley's screams in the opening, which are strong and piercing, it's the strong clean dialogue holds much of the tracks energy. There's a few scenes where the intricate sounds of the apparatus ticking or etching builds in the surrounds as well as a lively smash of crockery when Freud takes a fall but it's a largely quiet film beyond that.
The full, classic sounding score is used to either darken a moment or lift its importantance to a character's choice. Either way the score is delicate and fine and adds a real character to the film.
The making of is a poor seven minutes in length but has the stars and the director give a brief overview of the project. It's Cronenberg's commentary that holds the most interest, which holds a fine insight into the backdrop of the film and a keen understanding of his characters and the work with the actors to bring them to life. This is a track that expands what you are seeing ni the film very well indeed.
A Dangerous Method was a great film from a director who gets to the point with his work. This isn't a biopic, even with the real life characters. This is a solid drama, full of insight into the human condition and it isn't afraid to discuss it all, while countering the chat with visuals to undermine or strengthen the characters. The disc looks and sounds okay but there's nothing too exciting here and it's really only the commentary that saves this release from being 'Meh' presentation wise.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 25th May 2012
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, English HOH Audio Description
Extras: Commentary, Making Of
Easter Egg: No
Director: David Cronenberg
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Keira Knightley, Michael Fassbender, Vincent Cassel,
Length: 96 minutes
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