Sunday, 4 November 2012

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2011: Viggo Mortensen in A Dangerous Method

Viggo Mortensen did not receive an Oscar nomination, although he did receive a golden globe nomination, for portraying Sigmund Freud in A Dangerous Method.

A Dangerous Method is a somewhat interesting film about the relationship between the psychoanalyst Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender), and one of his female patients Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley). I can see why this film had such a tepid reception as the story really never becomes as compelling as it should. I would say that one thing that really holds the film back is Keira Knightley's terrible performance that unfortuantely is distractingly bad.

Viggo Mortensen probably is not the first actor one would think of when casting the part of Sigmund Freud the founder father of psychoanalysis. Mortensen though from his first scene in the film proves that there is clearly not any miscasting. Mortensen takes on the part with a complete assurance with his portrayal of him. From his manner to his voice he creates Freud vividly. Although both his manner and voice are something very different from Mortensen usual on screen persona, they both feel entirely natural though, and only succeeding in making his depiction of Freud a compelling one.

The scenes involving the discussions between Jung and Freud about their differences in regards to the human psyche. This is helped greatly by Mortensen's performance, and as well by the fact that Fassbender has better chemistry with Mortensen than he does with Knightley. In their first scene together as they first talk, and the differences between the two's views come out Mortensen is amazing. Mortensen as Freud absolutely controls the discussion, and Mortensen controls the scene. What is magnificent though is that Mortensen does this all so quietly, but through his calm but overpowering charisma Mortensen portrays power of Freud's personality.

It is fantastic the way Mortensen with such ease portrays the way Freud would go unquestioned by many. What he does so well is the portrayals of the flaws of Freud. The reason why Mortensen succeeds so well in establishing the idea that Freud is very much unquestioning when it comes to his own ideas. There is no hesitations to any of his statements regarding his theories or when he takes disregarding someone else's who questions his own particularly earlier in the film. Equally effective though are the moments later on when he is taken aback by Jung's more fervent attacks of Freud's established theories, as well as even his stature within the community.

When Freud is attacked Mortensen is great in showing that Freud barely knows what to do with such an opposition. Mortensen subtly conveys well a silent fear in Freud when he is being attacked, and really all that he does try to push forward with his charm again but Mortensen properly portrays Freud's considerable charisma that it wains greatly when he proven wrong. This is an excellent depiction of the character, and Mortensen really succeeds wonderfully with the role. I actually wish that Mortensen's Freud had his own film, or at least this film was more about just Freud and Jung as Freud is the best part of this film thanks to Mortensen.

Unfortunately this film treats Freud a little too much as a pawn in Jung's relationship with Spielrein, as Mortensen's Freud deserves much better than that. This problem is especially true towards the end of the film where Freud could use a better scene for a conclusion, but instead his last scene is more of there just for the main relationship between Jung and Spielrein. It is a shame that this occurs because Mortensen completely steals the movie, and Fassbender and Knightley (mostly because of Knightley) do not turn the central relationship into anything special. Even though Freud is misused in the film, this should not take away the fact that Mortensen absolutely meets the challenge of the character, and left me only wanting more of his depiction of Sigmund Freud.


mrripley said...

I have him in 5th but flip between him an patton oswalt.

RatedRStar said...

Great actor, I would love to see him get an oscar one day, as opposed to Joaquin Phoenix who deserves nothing.

dinasztie said...

He sounds interesting, though I probably won't give the movie a chance. :/

Anonymous said...

This movie just looked dull to me. What did you think of Fassbender?

Louis Morgan said...

It is very dull, only the scenes with Mortensen are worth while. Fassbender is quite good in his scenes with Mortensen, but goes from descent to somewhat bland when he is not with Mortensen.

dshultz said...

good chemistry is key you know, poor Fassy. Louis, were you aware of the fact that Mortensen required immense coaxing from Cronenberf to convince him he was right for the part? There are some pretty funny interviews about it.