Keira Knightley earns raves at Venice for “A Dangerous Method” – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell David Cronenberg’s latest, “A Dangerous Method,” held its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, with the press providing a surprising reaction: Applause.

Not that Cronenberg’s film doesn’t deserve it. There’s a very good chance it’s great. But the unwashed masses of the media rarely respond with such effusive praise unless something’s really deserving, so “Dangerous Method” must be something special. Right?

I’ll know for sure when I see the film at TIFF 2011 next week. In the meantime, reviews for the film – which follows Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) as they clash over a patient (Keira Knightley) – hit the Web ahead of the movie’s Venice bow.

Todd McCarthy writes in the Hollywood Reporter that Cronenberg’s “precise, lucid and thrillingly disciplined” film is “brought to vivid life by the outstanding lead performances.”

David Gritten at the UK Telegraph throws more love Knightley’s way, saying Cronenberg “has coaxed a performance from Knightley so ferocious in these early scenes that it seems likely to become the film’s main talking point.” He also cautions that her role is “extreme to the point of being alienating.”

The Guardian doesn’t agree. In his two-star review, Xan Brooks writes, “Even the celebrated spanking scene fails to knock much life into David Cronenberg’s lugubrious tale of the tussle between Freud and Jung.”

McCarthy gets the last word, saying Cronenberg’s film is “sure to be well received by festival audiences in Venice, Telluride, Toronto and New York (except, perhaps, by orthodox adherents of both physicians), this Sony Classics release should enjoy a vigorous life in specialized release” when it hits theaters on Nov. 23.

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