It's a handsome and stimulating film, noteworthy more for its terrific acting and provocative ideas than for any kind of dark Cronenbergundian genius.
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A Dangerous Method concerns itself primarily with sex, but what's most shocking is how conservative it turns out to be.
This complex story from the early days of psychoanalysis engrosses and even amuses as it unfolds through a series of conversations, treatment sessions and exchanged letters.
As rigorous and stimulating as its thematic inquiries are, A Dangerous Method ultimately rests as much on its performances, and in that regard, it succeeds far more than it fails.
The actors give it their all, especially Knightley, whose jaw- jutting, heavily accented and unfairly criticized portrayal gives the film its fighting spirit.
Even a supporting turn by Vincent Cassell as Otto Gross, a fellow psychiatrist, cocaine addict and unapologetic adulterer, fails to enliven the movie: A Dangerous Method makes even a cokehead hedonist boring.
I can't imagine what attracted these two megahunks to such a bore.
Michael Fassbender (Fishtank, Inglourious Basterds) is reliably great, severely outclassing costar Knightley's grating performance.
In short, Cronenberg has made an elegant film, with spanking. There's some mildly kinky sex in A Dangerous Method, but Cronenberg makes it neither exploitive nor so tasteful that it loses its charge.
Precise, lucid and thrillingly disciplined, this story of boundary-testing in the early days of psychoanalysis is brought to vivid life by the outstanding lead performances of Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen and Michael Fassbender.