Blu-ray Review: Great Actors Drive Intellectually Engaging ‘A Dangerous Method’

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CHICAGO – David Cronenberg’s “A Dangerous Method,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, features four of the most interesting performances of 2011 and is certainly a conversation piece in the themes that writer Christopher Hampton has chosen to explore. I still wish it had more of the actual “danger” of Cronenberg’s early work but there’s more to like here than I first thought, especially in what was brought to the material by those cast to deliver it.

This is a deeply cerebral film, one that’s most certainly for adults or very high-minded teenagers. It is about some of the most important developments in the investigation of how we think about not only mental illness but everyday thought processes. But it’s a tale of broad advances in thinking through the lives of the people involved on a very human, personal, and sexual level. Hampton’s script makes the case that the men and women on the forefront of changes in the way we think about thinking were going through the research process on each other. They were not only learning from watching each other’s behavior but almost pushing it, experimenting in a way that led to incredible discoveries.

Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen, and a brief appearance by the great Vincent Cassel are reason alone to rent “A Dangerous Method.” Every single one of them delivers and, surprisingly, the movie arguably belongs to Knightley, who has the most interesting arc in it. I increasingly like this young lady’s career choices, including this and 2010’s “Never Let Me Go.” She takes risks instead of just appearing in the countless romantic comedies she is most certainly offered.

Ultimately, this is an easier movie to admire than to love. A second viewing enhances what works about the film but I found the first viewing too cold and clinical for what I’ve come to love about Cronenberg. With films like “Videodrome,” “Dead Ringers,” and “A History of Violence,” the masterful director had a passion that’s not quite here and I think it could have been a masterpiece if he hadn’t approached it so clinically.

The Blu-ray is very light on special features but includes a typically-strong Sony HD transfer.

A Dangerous Method
A Dangerous Method
Photo credit: Sony Pictures Classics

From acclaimed director David Cronenberg (A History of Violence) comes a dark tale of sexual and intellectual discovery, featuring two of the greatest minds of the 20th century. Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender, Shame) has just begun his psychiatric career, having been inspired by the great Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen, The Lord of the Rings trilogy). When a mysterious and beautiful woman (Keira Knightley, Atonement) goes under Jung’s care, Jung finds himself crossing the line of the doctor/patient relationship, causing great conflict with his mentor and making Jung question his own morality in the process.

Special Features:
o The Making Of A Dangerous Method
o AFI’s Harold Lloyd Master Seminar with David Cronenberg

“A Dangerous Method” stars Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen, Sarah Gadon, and Vincent Cassel. It was written by Christopher Hampton and directed by David Cronenberg. It is rated R and was released by Sony on Blu-ray and DVD on March 27th, 2012. content director Brian Tallerico

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