January 23, 2017

Savannah gets sexual with Cronenberg’s “Dangerous Method” – AWARDS ALLEY


By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: It will be the spanking heard up and down Broughton Street.

Michael Fassbender, playing pioneering psychotherapist Carl Jung, administers sexually charged humiliation to a bare-chested Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) in David Cronenberg’s “A Dangerous Method,” which screens this evening as part of the ongoing Savannah Film Festival.

Oh, it’s not all sex and games. Cronenberg’s period drama examines how arousal and perversity in a female patient (Knightley) drove the early explorations of Jung (Fassbender) and Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen). “Method” is admirable, academic, cool and detached. It’s not quite as passionate as Cronenberg fans might expect, but it’s a worthy addition to this year’s impressive Savannah line up.

Mortensen, in particular, has been very good for Cronenberg, and vice versa. Starting with “A History of Violence” and leading through “Eastern Promises,” these two have collaborated on dangerous, exhilarating genre films that oozed with criminal menace.

Cronenberg’s “Method” cast is exquisite. Knightly – affecting a wet, Russian accent – is all twitches, spasms and jaw juts as Spielrein. Christopher Hampton’s adaptation of his own stage play “The Talking Cure” draws a line in the sand between doctor and patient, then pounds that divide with waves of sexual tension. The eventual release, which should have been Cronenberg’s specialty, is understated. But the cast relishes Hampton’s loquacious feast – really, the performances are uniformly great.

Just brace yourself for the spanking.

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About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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