Time Out Sydney

In 2007, David Cronenberg made a darkly comic short called “At the Suicide of the Last Jew in the World in the Last Cinema in the World" - the grey-haired director played the title character himself, pinned by a news camera in a bathroom while he fondles a gun. Ignore this four-minute satire at your peril (it’s on YouTube): Cronenberg was finding a new angle on his body-horror preoccupations, the strangeness now rooted in ethno-religious otherness. With A Dangerous Method, set at the turn-of-the 20th-century dawn of “psych-analysis,” he furthers this exploration, as visionary cigar-chomper Sigmund Freud (Mortensen) struggles with goyish disciple Carl Jung (Fassbender), while the mental health of the latter’s patient-lover, Sabina Spielrein (Knightley), hangs in the balance.

This isn’t your typical film about therapy, nor a quaint period piece. Rather, it’s about the forceful invasion of minds (as was Scanners), and their rebuilding by those who presume to know better. Knightley, in a showstoppingly bizarre performance, writhes with anguish while her doctors nod and discuss the implications of treatment. If the movie falls just shy of our highest mark, this is because Cronenberg is tamping down on his usually naturalistic performances - everything feels vaguely mad-scientist-ish. He must have meant it; the movie is poised exactly on the frontier where fans want this adventurous filmmaker to be, even if he’s still working out his issues.

Sign up to our monthly film newsletter

By Joshua Rothkopf   |  

A Dangerous Method details

Length: 99 minutes

Country of origin: UK/Ger/Can|Swi

Year of production: 2011

Classification: MA15+ - Under 15s must be accompanied by parent

Showing 29 Mar 2012-29 May 2012

Director: David Cronenberg

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Viggo Mortensen, Keira Knightley

Caribbean Cook-Up

Caribbean Cook-Up

Fill up on jerk, ponies and noisy good times at this beer-drenched party from 4 Pines

Lost Feast

Lost Feast

Find yourself a seat at Lost Paradise's long table and dine with your festival family at this communal feast in the forest

Readers' comments, reviews, hints and pictures

Community guidelines

blog comments powered by Disqus

Get the Time Out weekend planner. Straight to your inbox, every Thursday.
Read more