Director David Cronenberg has been doing the literary equivalent of double-fisting, and we have no doubt the results of his book binge will be intoxicating. Before he had even finished shooting his adaptation of John Kerr’s nonfiction tome, A Most Dangerous Method, which explores the tangled love-work triangle involving Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender), Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortenson), and their mutual student-patient, Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley), the Canadian filmmaker had signed on to direct a film version of Don DeLillo’s novella about twenty-four hours in the life of a womanizing Manhattan plutocrat (Robert Pattinson).
Today, Cronenberg’s daughter tweeted the first image (above) from “Cosmopolis.” This comes just days after it was announced that “A Dangerous Method” would debut at the Venice Film Festival — which is shaping up to be the high-brow literary equivalent of Comic-Con with hotly anticipated adaptations of Wuthering Heights, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and Dave Eggers’ Zeitoun, all due to roll out at the premiere Italian film competition, which is regarded as both Oscar bellwether and tastemaker for international cineastes. Make no mistake: This is a festival made for Word&Film readers and we’ll be covering it with wild abandon.
We’re most excited to see what Cronenberg brings to these two disparate projects shot in such quick succession. They’re both fairly straightforward narratives where the transgression will likely be of the more real world quotidian variety. “A Dangerous Method” offers an opportunity for Cronenberg to dive into the highly sexualized dark recesses of the two men responsible for popularizing the talking cure and for the notion that many of our problems stem from the deviant desires to sleep with and/or kill our parents. The prospect of a Cronenberg-Viggo Mortenson reunion is also very encouraging, given that “A History of Violence” is among the finest work either of them has ever produced.
“Cosmopolis” also belongs in the gourmet section of the movie store, made as it is with only the finest ingredients. Aside from his brooding leading man, Cronenberg has recruited Paul Giamatti, Juliette Binoche, Samantha Morton, and Mathieu Amalric for this look at disconnection and paranoia in a modern dystopia. It’s still too early to tell whether Pattinson will have the chops to hold our attention as the anti-heroic centerpiece of the film. But we were encouraged by the post-vampiric range he revealed in “Water for Elephants.”
Cronenberg has always been a reliable source for films challenging our notions of good and bad and exploring the outer limits of our potential to use deviance to mask our loneliness and vulnerability. Although Cronenberg is often lumped with that other cinematic connoisseur of weirdnesses, David Lynch, Cronenberg’s films have always been more interested in the universal human impulses behind his characters’ out-there behavior. He doesn’t let us off the hook by pathologizing the twin gynecologists in “Dead Ringers,” or the cult of damaged people who sexualize car wrecks in “Crash,” or even Mortenson’s legacy of brutality in “A History of Violence.”
Is anyone else as excited about the prospect of this Cronenberg double feature? What are some of your favorite titles from the director’s back catalog?