“Coriolanus” and “A Dangerous Method” are two of this year’s indie films with specific niches that garnered no big awards. These two movies prove the unfortunate perception that smaller films are not always better and that sometimes not waiting for DVD is a mistake. This is sad because many a time it is the small films that are undiscovered gems; they can surprise us, teach us, and open our eyes the most.
At first before I saw both of these films I wondered why they had not been nominated, especially for the Oscars. Keira Knightley was applauded by her peers for what they called a fearless performance and Ralph Fiennes had directed a modern take on Shakespeare (usually an Oscar favorite).
It is with this thought that I saw first “A Dangerous Method” and then “Coriolanus.” “A Dangerous Method” explores the psychology of Freud and Jung. It focuses on their relationship and disagreement in thought. Michael Fassbender plays Carl Jung, Viggo Mortensen is Sigmund Freud, and Keira Knightley plays a patient of Jung’s. Unfortunately, “A Dangerous Method” is less dangerous and more tiresome. There is not enough in its story to hold interest, the editing is choppy, and the performances are cold. The last adjective can describe the whole movie. In its lack of warmth, this film is unable to make us feel anything for its characters. There is no attachment and it is hard to care about them as well.
“Coriolanus” is also cold. Whereas “A Dangerous Method” fails to conjure up anything especially interesting, “Coriolanus” at least is intriguing in its Shakespeare-uttering characters set in modern war time. Ralph Fiennes plays a man of many names, Caius, Coriolanus, a general who does not care for commoners. He protected them in wartime but when he is chosen to represent them as their voice his opponents wage forces against him. After he is exiled, he partners with his nemesis, played by Gerard Butler (who is strong here).
“Coriolanus” has a great ensemble, Fiennes, Butler, Vanessa Redgrave, Jessica Chastain, and Brian Cox (also very good). Fiennes is talented as an actor and he proves himself as a director as well. However, even when Coriolanus is led to his undoing (which is bound to happen in a Shakespearean tragedy) it is hard to feel sorry for him. No tears are shed. While “Shakespeare in Love” (a fictional depiction of Shakespeare’s personal life) won Best Picture and Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet” was inventive, “Coriolanus” leaves us speechless but not in love.
The Academy may have made some mistakes (quite a few actually, but corrected by some of the wins last night) by overlooking some great performances (such as Elizabeth Olsen in “Martha Marcy May Marlene” and Ryan Gosling in general) and movies (like the wonderfully artsy “Drive”), it is right about “A Dangerous Method” and “Coriolanus.”