None of the first three "major" premieres at the Venice Film Festival went all that well, at least as the unofficial introduction to Oscar season. "The Ides of March" wasn't panned, necessarily, but it's probably not your Oscar favorite anymore either. Audiences liked "Carnage," but found it more goofy and dark than award-laudatory. And everyone hated Madonna's "W.E.," which surprised no one except The Weinstein Company, apparently. But this morning, Venice produced its first genuine hit, the movie that's (mostly) universally beloved and will be popping up regularly throughout award season. It is of course from the man who brought you "Scanners" and looks like this.
David Cronenberg, weird, creepy, brilliant, Canadian, brought "A Dangerous Method" -- a story about a romantic triangle involving Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen), Carl Jung (Michael Fassbinder) and an unbalanced but gorgeous patient (Keira Knightley) screened this morning, and pretty much everybody loved it. OK, that's not true, there were a few detractors -- Guy Lodge, who's a go-to guy this week, says it was "airlessly tasteful" -- but we trust Todd McCarthy more than anyone else, and he's raving this morning.
"Precise, lucid and thrillingly disciplined, this story of boundary-testing in the early days of psychoanalysis is brought to vivid life by the outstanding lead performances of Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen and Michael Fassbender."
The press gave Cronenberg and the cast a huge round of applause as well. Though we don't think the press should ever be doing that, even in Europe. No cheering in the press box, people!
Anyway, "A Dangerous Method" is going to be everywhere in the coming months, so prepare. Today's other big Venice debut: "Alps," the crazy movie from the crazy "Dogtooth" guy.