Went to see A Dangerous Method last night, with much anticipation. This thing was seething with talent across the board: a Christopher Hampton script (he does like his “dangerous” titles, doesn’t he?), Cronenberg helming, and acting powerhouses, Viggo Morteson, the Fass and er…Keira Knightly. The omens were well augured…so why did I spend most the film praying for it to end?
Certainly, the editing felt like a primary culprit. The film was cut very fast and hard on Important Lines, giving the performances little room to breathe. Fassbender’s Jung suffers from this more than the other two, rarely given a chance to move out of his “troubled” face. Knightley, I have to say, has the trickiest role to pull off having been landed with both a (supposedly) Russian accent and physical ticks that unfortunately resemble a comic gurn. That you manage to start to take her a bit more seriously later is credit to her persistence. (Although there is one bizarre scene where she sits in a corset with a single nipple showing. Not two, not one, just one. It wasn’t even tittilating just a bit distracting. Not her fault, but still very strange [I don’t mind strangeness per se, but I like feeling I know why it’s there or what it’s doing or…well…moving on]).
More fundamentally, you just don’t really care what’s going on. There’s not much chemistry between the leads, I was not too sure whose/what story this was meant to be and the script was all together too knowing about itself (Pet peeve of mine that: I hate when historical movies have glaring, knowing lines about the future). Finally, there’s a blunt discussion about Jewishness awkwardly shoehorned into the last thirty minutes that felt a bit cheaply used, even if it is tied to the eventual fates of two of the characters.
There’s a fascinating tale here that deserves to dramatised properly – this film, to quote my film going companion Zoe, felt like an extended Wikipedia article.