A Dangerous Method Reviews

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Freud, played by the perpetual shape-shifter Viggo Mortensen, slinks around like a silent old Zen master. Mortensen is a calmer, gentler Freud, not the dogmatic tyrant of psychological thought imagined by the common populace - Matthew D'Abate

A Dangerous Method Reviews

Mortensen gives a wonderfully subtle comic performance. He wears a complacent look under his mustache and goatee, and he waves his inevitable cigar like a scepter. He smiles benevolently at his young colleague but you can see tiny lines of tension around his mouth whenever Jung strays beyond the lines of his dogma?

Steve Vineberg
Critics at Large
27 February 2012

The picture is light but not lightweight, with a richness of feeling from its performers (especially Mortensen, who can invest in an amused grunt the tonal complexity most actors reserve for soliloquies).

Ryan Gilbey
New Statesman
9 February 2012

Mortensen is terrific ? sardonic and urbane, and although that famous cigar barely leaves his mouth, you never feel he's doing the standard cartoon Freud.

Jonathan Romney
The Independent
12 February 2012

Mortensen, in very much a supporting role, thrives superbly for his third Cronenberg running, summoning a peppery gravitas, and an eye-narrowing fearfulness, as the father of psychiatry might well, about patricidal impulses from his younger colleague.

Tim Robey
The Telegraph
9 February 2012

? Freud, played in an even better instance of counterintuitive casting by Viggo Mortensen, haloed in cigar smoke, his placid manner at odds with a glittering gaze that misses nothing. "Not the easiest house guest we've ever had," says Mrs Jung after one of Freud's visits, one of the few lines to raise a laugh, intended or not.

Mortensen, a charismatic lead in Cronenberg's previous two outings, A History of Violence and Eastern Promises, carries himself magnificently here, but he's stuck in a filmed play whose relentless talkiness never translates into drama

Anthony Quinn
The Independent
9 February 2012

Viggo Mortensen has so much on-screen magnetism, he'll probably destroy the credit cards of anyone sitting in the first 10 rows.

Wallace Bain
Santa Cruz Sentinel
25 January 2012

Mortensen's buttoned-down and highly verbal Freud is something to behold ? and also to listen to. The actor has been the quiet man of volcanic physical intensity in two previous Cronenberg films, A History of Violence and Eastern Promises. Here his tongue is more lethal than his fists, as when he tears into Jung for practising "second-rate mysticism and self-aggrandizing shamanism."

Peter Howell
Toronto Star
12 January 2012

It's possible that in lusting after Mortensen all these years, we've taken his talent for granted. Of course, we really didn't know how talented he was until he started working with Cronenberg. This is the best thing Mortensen's ever done. His slow, paunchy, hairy Freud has a cavalier authority and a capacity for drollery. He's also seductively wise in a way that makes both Fassbender and Knightley, as very good as they are, also seem uncharacteristically callow. I don't know where Mortensen found this physical and psychological heaviness, this expressive inexpressiveness, but now isn't the time to start a diet.

Wesley Morris
Boston Globe
23 December 2011

Viggo Mortensen's embodiment of Freud, all cigar-smoke wisdom and singsong voice, is one of my favorite performances of the year.

Robert Horton
Daily Herald
23 December 2011

It is also marvelous to see Freud, that embattled colossus, restored to his human dimensions by Mr. Mortensen. His sly performance is so convincingly full of humor, warmth and vanity that it renders moot just about every other posthumous representation of the patriarch of psychoanalysis.

New York Times
22 November 2011

If Hampton's literate script provides the essential language, Mortensen and Fassbender do such a splendid job of turning iconic figures such as Freud and Jung into compelling people that it is a shock to hear that others (Christoph Waltz for Freud, Christian Bale for Jung) almost got the parts.

Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
23 November 2011

In his third consecutive Cronenberg film (after playing the righteous killers of A History of Violence and Eastern Promises), Mortensen is a happy surprise. Never has this tightly-wound actor seemed so relaxed in a difficult role; he is the charming papa Jung hates to overthrow but knows he must.

Richard Corliss
22 November 2011

....the founding father of psychoanalysis is given vivid human dimensions (amused, competitive, vindictive, charming, imperious, cigar-loving) by Viggo Mortensen in his third fruitful collaboration with the director.

by Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
30 November 2011

Two years later, Jung is finally going to meet his hero in Vienna. Almost serenading the audience with his Austrian accent, Mortensen is instantly Sigmund Freud without a shadow of a doubt. With a calm, cool and elegant demeanor he walks with confidence, cane at his side and cigar always hanging from his mouth. He seduces the audience and he seduces Jung, even though Jung hopes to challenge his theory that sexual impulses are the main catalyst of human behavior. Jung refuses to believe it could be so simple and yet he would soon help prove Freud's theory himself.

Brad Brevet
Rope of Silicon
10 September 2011

But there is no denying that A Dangerous Method doesn't come alive until we get our asses some Viggo. Christoph Waltz was originally set to play Freud, but was forced to drop out. At which time Cronenberg turned to his current muse. I'm sure Waltz would've done some stellar things with the character, but hot damn, Viggo sizzles as Freud. Which is all the more impressive considering the character never raises his voice or gives any flashy speeches; the most dynamic thing Freud does in the film is faint, once. Most of his scenes are casual two-person conversations. I have no idea what Freud was like in real life, so I have no idea how well Viggo plays the Freud, but he gives the character a smug electricity that makes every moment he's on camera pop. He's quite funny too, in a droll and sarcastic sort of way, savoring Freud's many witticisms. This is a Viggo you don't think of when you think of Viggo. I will be very surprised if I don't see his name among the Best Supporting Actor nominatees next year (unless the studio decides to bump him to Best Actor and kinda f**k Fassbender). There should also be an honorary Oscar involved for Best Cigar Smoking, for his ever-present stogies.

Joshua Miller
21 October 2011

...if there's one thing that the critics can agree on, it's that Viggo Mortensen, in his third film on the trot with the Canadian maverick, gives another brilliant turn. Buried beneath a prosthetic nose, and playing older than he's usually allowed to, he's easily the highlight of the film, giving a beguiling turn worlds away from the professional killers he played for Cronenberg in "A History of Violence" and "Eastern Promises."

Five Things We Learned In Toronto From The 'A Dangerous Method' Star
Oliver Lyttelton
The Playlist
14 September 2011

Potential Oscar nods are in order for a jaw-dropping Keira Knightley and the ever-flawless Viggo Mortensen.

Jesse Hawthorne Ficks
San Francisco Bay Guardian
26 September 2011

It was a stroke of inspiration to cast the virile, hyper-secure Mortensen as the godfather of neurosis. Puffing on a cigar, he makes Freud a charismatic control freak, a man all too eager to engage in dream analysis yet too much of a self-designed authority figure to put his own dreams up for dissection.

Enertainment Weekly
Owen Gleiberman
10 September 2011

Mortensen is terrific as Freud and he lends the film its dry humor along with its few shades of sadness as the Austrian doctor goes from hoping his work will be carried on by his protégé to fearing how it will be perverted by Jung's emotions and willingness to consider fringe-science like telepathy and mysticism.

Matt Goldberg
10 September 2011

And then there's Mortensen, certainly the most physically imposing Sigmund Freud to ever insinuate itself on the public imagination.

Jim Slotek
Toronto Sun
11 September 2011

Viggo Mortensen (a phallic cigar never leaving his mouth) makes for an almost fatherly Freud, in a surprisingly controlled and dignified turn.

Micha? Oleszczyk
10 September 2011

Films featuring well-known historical figures can often seem arch and self-conscious in the extreme. Here, Mortensen has such immediate authority and swagger as Freud that we don't question his portrayal.

He is a sardonic and witty cigar-chewing patriarch, encouraging but also gently mocking Jung, whom he sees initially as a protégé.

Geoffrey Macnab
The Independent
3 September 2011

Mortensen has become one of Cronenberg's go-to guys in recent years, and you can see why: Even in a period film like this one -- a picture that runs the heavy risk of being ponderous and stiff -- he can slip himself into the scenery with a "Don't mind me, here in my Sigmund Freud getup" naturalness....And his exchanges with Mortensen's Freud are among the movie's greatest pleasures. He's the straight man to Mortensen's sly jokester. At their first meeting, Freud listens patiently as Jung outlines Spielrein's symptoms in great detail. He offers one observation, which Jung rejects; he offers another that Jung also pooh-poohs. "Well," he says, after waiting one patient beat, "perhaps it's a Russian thing."

Stephanie Zacharek
2 September 2011

Mortensen - who has become Cronenberg's muse, of sorts, having also starred in his last two pictures - is one of the most understated and magnetic actors working today. Apparently, he only joined this production as a favor to Cronenberg after another actor dropped out of the part and shot all of his scenes in just a few days, and without having the amount of time that he usually has to prepare. If true, that makes his performance all the more impressive. As SPC co-chief Michael Barker told me on Saturday night, "Who would have imagined that Freud was so charismatic? But the film makes you realize that he had to have been."

Scott Feinberg
Hollywood Reporter
5 September 2010

And Mortensen's Freud, a sardonic, ineffably sinister presence who rarely raises his voice above a silky-smooth purr, calmly steals the picture; following the thesp's terrific work in "A History of Violence" and "Eastern Promises," his third collaboration with Cronenberg has resulted in something no less distinctive.

Justin Chang
2 September 2011

A drier, more contained figure, Freud is brought wonderfully to life by Mortensen in a bit of unexpected casting that proves entirely successful.

Todd McCarthy
Hollywood Reporter
2 September 2011

The richly gifted Fassbender is steely, restrained, and flat-out magnificent as the ambitious Jung who places science and family before love. And as the cigar-smoking Freud, Mortensen -- sporting a nose prosthesis -- all but steals the picture with his knowing gaze and wry insights. In fact, his character injects an unexpected and delicious humor. This duo will surely be mentioned come Oscar time.

Erica Abeel
Huffington Post
11 September 2011

Method, which spans roughly a decade, opens in 1904 Vienna, where budding psychoanalyst Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) has agreed to take on Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) as a patient in order to test a psychoanalytic technique invented but apparently heretofore untried by Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen, effortlessly devouring scenery).

Simon Howell
Sound on Sight
8 September 2011

...A Dangerous Method is a pearly showcase for its urgent dialectic, elevated dialogue and world-class stars. It is rightly content to embody Jung's agonized sobriety and Freud's courtly, corrosive wit. Mortensen has never seemed so relaxed in a difficult role; he is the charming papa one hates to overthrow but knows one must.

Richard Corliss
2 September 2011

Mortensen's Freud is an engagingly calm character, with cigar constantly in his mouth and at ease with a confident composure and genial humour. As always Mortensen - in his third film with Cronenberg after A History of Violence and Eastern Promises - dominates the film and brings a much needed sly humour to the proceedings.

Mark Adams
Screen Daily
3 September 2011

The film is beautiful to watch. Mr. Fassbender is convincing as Jung, Sarah Gadon excellent as his long-suffering wife Emma, Mr. Mortensen again reveals his amazing skills of self-transformation, and Vincent Cassel is a treat as Otto Gross, doctor, libertine, asylum inmate and underminer of Jung's protestant probity.

Roderick Conway Morris
New York Times
6 September 2011

In a role smaller than the film's marketing would have you believe, Mortensen is so silkily persuasive an argumentative foil for Fassbender in the scenes they share that the narrative seems more a head-to-head than it structurally is.

Guy Lodge
In Contention
2 September 2011

Mortensen and Fassbender are topnotch in their less showy but more nuanced, controlled parts and the crackling dialogue they spout at each other (courtesy of screenwriter Christopher Hampton) is convincing and compelling.

Chris Alexander
13 September 2100

Knowing the Academy voters' conservative tastes, I don't think "Dangerous Method" is Oscar-caliber as Best Picture, but its three main actors should receive nominations for their work: Fassbender and Keira Knightley in the lead categories and Viggo Mortensen in the supporting one.

Emanuel Levy
3 September 20011

Mortensen gives Doctor Freud a patriarchal presence that justifies the title of "fatherly figure" given to him by Jung, played by an elegant Fassbender who guards an inner world where, unlike his mentor, peace doesn't reign.

Domenico La Porta
2 September 2011

Fortunately, things improve a great deal once Freud arrrives. Mortensen (aided by probably the most significant nose prosthesis since Nicole Kidman's in "The Hours") is, as he so often is these days, tremendous, bringing a patrician wit and real pathos to the part.....Mortensen caps off a trilogy of perfect performances for Cronenberg (and is the film's best bet for award nods, we imagine).

Oliver Lyttelton
The Playlist
2 September 2011

For those of us who prefer Freudian rigour to Jung's proto-New Age wooliness, it's heartening that Viggo Mortensen's portrayal of Freud is endearingly complex. If Mortensen's cigar-puffing Freud at times seems inordinately stiff (perhaps reinforced by the fact that Hampton's script has Jung accusing him of "rigid pragmatism"), he's at least witty.

Richard Porton
2 September 2011

Mortensen's performance is masterful in the way it shows Freud as a contained, analytical logician, whose conclusions seem prudent if you grant him his premises. Perhaps his incessant smoking is an indicator of compulsions that his speech, usually calm, conceals.

Roger Eberts
Chicago Sun-Times
16 December 2011

Playing the psychiatrist at a moment when his theories about sexuality and human psychology were controversial and precariously fragile, he imbues the real-life man with the stately reticence of a Viennese bourgeois, not the inner fire-bomb-thrower. It's an approach that allows the film's true stars -- ideas -- to shine. Fassbender and Keira Knightley, as Jung's patient-slash-lover Sabina Spielrein, get the showiest scenes, but "A Dangerous Method" works thanks to the quiet, self-effacing work Mortensen does to take Freud out of the pantheon and into the cozy, well-worn living room.

Mortensen was deservedly nominated for a Golden Globe on Thursday for his performance in "A Dangerous Method."

Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
17 December 2011

Instead of the usual stereotype as a gruff, unyielding father figure preoccupied with sex, Mortensen plays Freud as somewhat authoritarian, but fundamentally smart, affable, and very concerned about the future of his psychoanalytic movement.

Steven Reidbord, MD
Psychology Today
3 December 2011

Freud, played by the perpetual shape-shifter Viggo Mortensen, slinks around like a silent old Zen master. Mortensen is a calmer, gentler Freud, not the dogmatic tyrant of psychological thought imagined by the common populace.

Matthew D'Abate
Your Beautiful New York
14 December 2011

Some films that use well-known historical figures do so badly, but Mortensen has such authority and swagger as Freud that it is hard to question the authenticity of his portrayal. Whether he's puffing away on a cigar or interpreting Jung's dreams, Mortensen gives the viewer a glimpse into how Freud was really like, giving a three-dimensional performance that transcends anything we can read about in a book.

Ruth Chan
The Quad
21 November 2011

Mortensen is simply extraordinary in his understated ability to command attention and shine a light on the brilliant and imposing, larger than life yet totally grounded Freud. Sympathetic, hypnotic, drowning in bourgeois domesticity and keenly aware of the anti-Semitism working against him, he creates the accessible genius.

Neely Swanson
Easy Reader News
24 November 2011

...it's a credit to the star's versatility that he has now managed to pull off three completely different characterisations for Cronenberg with absolute conviction. His embodiment of Sigmund Freud here is literally worlds away from the enigmatic family man in Violence or the equally secretive Russian mob ade in Promises. An effortlessly articulate Austrian gentleman with a notable arrogant streak, Freud is brought vividly to the screen and Mortensen comes close to stealing the entire show from Michael Fassbender's astute mild-mannered Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung.

Oliver Pfeiffer
What Culture!
17 November 2011

Gone are the expected gestures of a thousand comic strip banalities, the over-the-top absurdities of countless trite pop cultural visions of [Freud] and his work. In their place we find a brilliant, deeply thoughtful, and powerfully restrained man very much of his just-post Victorian time. Languid of speech and careful of tone, Mortensen's Freud is both comforting and frustrating, caught between his conviction that the science of the mind is a crucial arena for study and the knowledge that what he has found there is likely to prove too controversial for the general public. He is cautious and yet righteous, evangelical and yet circumspect. It's a wondrous creation, and among the shiniest moments of Mortensen's already impressively brilliant career.

Stuart Henderson
Pop Matters
17 November 2011

Pulling off that sort of ultra-restrained melodrama is no easy feat, and requires the work of actors capable of conveying characters with inner lives totally separate from the words coming from their mouths. Fortunately, Cronenberg's cast is beyond capable, they're exceptional; particularly Mortensen, who nails Freud's haughty dismissiveness perfectly.

Matt Singer
Independent Film Channel
17 October 2011

...a prosthetic nose-adorned Mortensen exuding imperious intimidation as Freud

Nick Schager
Slant Magazine
2 October 2011

Viggo Mortensen, a frequent Cronenberg collaborator, was an unlikely choice for the role of Freud (at least that was what I thought going in). But he turns in a terrific performance, witty and intelligent--a carefully constructed character study. Freud is contained in his own theories, and chewing on his ubiquitous cigar inevitably brings up questions of his own oral fixations. He is indulgent of Jung's flights of fancy, at first, but eventually, as psychoanalysis becomes more accepted, he becomes concerned that Jung's mysticism will throw everyone off the rails. This Freud has some bite. I was so taken with Mortensen's constantly alert and cunning eyes. He was always thinking, sometimes on a current that flows in opposite direction of his dialogue. It is a very effective performance, and Mortensen, one of the best actors working today, has shown us something new in his repertoire. It bodes well for his life as a middle-aged actor.

By Sheila OMalley
Capital New York
6 October 2011

Words, though, can barely express just how wonderful Mortensen is as Freud, except to say that this is a truly Brando-like performance in its serene amusement and its subtle habitation of a lofty, intractable man. Look especially at the moments when the cash-strapped Freud tries not to be bothered by Jung's financial security. Most actors would be tempted to signal Freud's unrest to get easy laughs, but Mortensen doesn't show the indicated unrest at all. He just allows Freud to feel it behind a stony face and lets us provide the particulars of this joke.

By Dan Callahan
6 October 2011

Mortensen as Freud epitomizes the wise old soul who is part-scientist, part-intellectual revolutionary. This is Mortensen's third straight collaboration with Cronenberg following "A History of Violence" and "Eastern Promises," and the ease and rhythm from working together so often pay off in the effortless grace of Mortensen's portrayal. It is some of his finest film work ever.

Clint O'Connor
The Plain Dealer
25 January 2012

The central performances are especially good, with Mortensen standing out as he puts on that silky and odd Derek Jacobi English accent for his German icon. His performance is precise and brilliant in the way he shows Freud as a cold and staunchly analytical mind, who can't grapple with his pupil's questionable ethics and disagreement.

Rumnique Nannar
Phoenix News
30 January 2012

Viggo Mortensen is the champ. Hands down. Of all the "say what?" performances some of us first heard about at last fall's Toronto International Film Festival ? and which characterized 2011 as a hugely surprising year for film ? none of them surprised me more than Mortensen playing Sigmund Freud in David Cronenberg's "A Dangerous Method."

In other words, not even the bracing successes of Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover or Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe shocked me the way Mortensen did playing Freud in Cronenberg's elegant, altogether surprising film.

Freud, for most of us, is a wild guess in speech and manner. Which is why Mortensen's cool, slow, contemplative version of Freud is ? for the purpose of a movie anyway ? brilliantly credible.

Jeff Simon
Buffalo News
26 January 2012

He is utterly extraordinary, wryly assaying the world with an ever-present cigar and a gift for keeping a distance between everything and his own ego, whose needs he is virtuosically gifted at concealing.

Who expects to be shocked by the subtle authority of Viggo Mortensen as an actor?

Well, I was.

Jeff Simon
Buffalo News
13 September 2011

Last edited: 14 January 2013 15:13:31