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A Dangerous Method: The Birth Of Psychoanalysis
This is a film chronicling the relationship between the two titans of psychoanalysis: Sigmund Freud (Mortenson) and Carl Jung (Fassbender), and the woman that brought them together – Sabina Spielrein (Knightley).
Jung has just started putting Freud’s theories of psychoanalysis to the test, theories that even Freud hasn’t tested yet, when a patient by the name of Sabina Spielrein comes his way. Under his care, she’s able to get over the sexual and psychological scars inflicted on her by her father’s beatings. As a guinea pig, it’s her case that brings Jung and Freud together and gradually this reverent student/mentor relationship starts to sour. Jung wants to open up the field and explore more metaphysical aspects while Freud clings to its core beliefs in an effort to have this fledgling science taken seriously. Their relationship is tested even more when Jung starts an affair with Spielrein, who is now studying psychoanalysis and is showing great promise; favouring Freud’s ideas over Jung’s.
Acting wise, the film takes a while to hit its stride. Keira Knightley is rather difficult to recognize, disguised by her hunched posture, gloriously weird facial tics and bugging eyes. The things she does with her face are rather formidable and quite scary. Her character calms down considerably though after Jung treats her and she relaxes into being a less neurotic character and a highly respected psychoanalyst in her own right. She’s the most exciting thing about the film and the only character with an aura of unpredictability around her.
Freud and Jung in contrast are stodgy and stiff, though Mortenson and Fassbender do a great job of showing the dynamics of their relationship and the curve that it takes. Their relationship starts off with a star-struck Jung reaching out to Freud; Jung soon becomes Freud’s star pupil who then rebels when he starts to feel confined by Freud’s lack of imagination. It’s a classic rebellion-against-authority subplot but instead of emphasizing the split in their relationship, the film chooses to showcase the hurt and abandonment that they both feel as a result.
The film was adapted from a play that was initially based on a book and its theatre background is rather evident. The film has a static feel to it partly because it’s heavy on the dialogue but also because of the camera work. It feels weighted, there isn’t much movement to it and the score is quite sparse and doesn’t inject much life into the proceedings either.
More a romance and study of power than a history of psychoanalysis, the film manages to be reasonably entertaining and very well acted, though psychology buffs will probably find themselves wishing for more substance to the storyline.
She wakes up from her coma to a husband who she doesn’t remember and parents who are overjoyed that she’s forgotten about their dispute. While Paige’s parents try to bring her back to the way of life that she’d rebelled against, Leo tries to help her remember why she’d left all that behind in the first place. Fighting for a wife who doesn’t remember him and is a completely different person than the one he knew, Leo tries to get her to fall in love with him again.
The film rarely gets unbearably cheesy, setting it apart from your run of the mill Sparks adaptation. It gets mushy, emotional and sappy, but it’s more likely to make you smile than roll your eyes. Leo’s pain and heartbreak combined with Paige’s family’s delight at having their daughter back, gives the film a level of grit that keeps it from becoming overly cloying. However, the secret of the film’s success is the leads, who have great chemistry and manage to pass off some of the cheesiness as bearable.
After five decades in the business and a long string of supporting roles playing sociopaths and villains, 77 year-old Hollywood veteran, Bruce Dern, finally takes centre stage in Alexander Payne's incredibly poetic, tremendously moving drama, Nebraska.
Shot entirely in black and white, Nebraska follows Woodrow 'Woody' T. Grant (Dern); an elderly, progressively senile ex-alcoholic. After receiving a letter informing him that he has won a million dollars from a suspicious sweepstakes campaign, he is determined to make his way from Montana to Nebraska and claim his prize.
After failing to convince his delusional father that the prize money is a hoax, his son David (Forte) agrees to drive him to Lincoln, Nebraska, taking the opportunity to spend some quality time with his aging father.
Soon after hitting the road, the duo makes an unexpected stop in Woody’s hometown of Hawthorne, where they’re joined by his wife, Kate (Squibb) and David’s older brother Ross (Odenkirk); both of whom think that Woody should be admitted to a home for the elderly. Their visit soon attracts unwanted attention when word spreads of Woody’s newly-found fortune, bringing distant family members, old friends and foes, looking for a piece of the actions.
With his slumped posture and shuffling feet, Dern is absolutely riveting as Woody who, thanks to the years of drinking and childhood heartache, has managed to alienate himself from the world and everyone around him. Delivering a powerful and a quietly moving performance, Dern paints his character with a haunted look of a man who still appears to be connected with reality, but who chooses to find solace in his own world of imagination. As his sharp-tongued wife, Squibb is absolutely glorious, and delivers some of the film’s most hilarious moments. As Woody’s voice of reason, Forte goes for a gentle, unassuming performance, portraying a man struggling to find meaning to his existence, and a son who desperately wants to preserve a connection to his fading father.
Directed by Alexander Payne and written by Bob Nelson, Nebraska has an air of minimalism throughout. Thanks to the wonderful work of cinematographer, Phedon Papamichael – and lingering guitar-based scores by Mark Orton – each shot feels right in the moment, and manages to correspond wonderfully to Woody’s state of mind.
Sad, humorous and graceful, Nebraska is a beautifully written character-driven drama that portrays the warmth of humanity, and the need for tolerance, in a very moving and restrained way.