Groups like the Golden Raspberry Awards Foundation give out bad acting awards and winning a Razzie to some actors is an honor.
In my book, the Razzie winner for 2011 is — hands down — Keira Knightley.
I didn’t list my own worst acting list at the end of the year, but Knightley — who I usually like — would have sat on top.
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The movie is A Dangerous Method. And it, along with Knightley, is deserving of the tossing of a rotten vegetable or two at the screen. This takes us very quickly back to Knightley. She opens the movie as a Russian woman in major meltdown mode. Agonizing screams spew from her contorted mouth and face.
At first you think she’s trying to play a mentally retarded woman. Then you think she’s just badly constipated. And then you realize that the actress — at least when it comes to that kind of a role — just plain sucks.
Knightley also struggles to hang on to her very badly done Russian accent. But most actors doing the accent thing can’t keep it up for a whole movie so Knightley doesn’t lose points there.
How does Knightley’s character connect? A Dangerous Method centers on first the friendship and then the bitter rivalry of pioneers of psychology Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung.
Most of their communication is done via letter and the letters are narrated during other scenes. The two great psychologists bounce back and forth about their philosophy of the psychology of human nature. Freud is stuck on sex as the motivator; Jung tries to tie philosophy to the puzzle of the human mind.
And while trying to unravel an unravelable puzzle, Jung violates one of the most sacred of all laws. You never get laid where you get paid. He has an affair with Knightley’s character. First, it’s when she a patient and later when she becomes a student of psychology.
She’s an irresistible sicko who loves being spanked. Pheromones fly and it’s like the proverbial spider and the fly. Jung doesn’t have a chance.
Writer Christopher Hampton (Atonement) doesn’t give director David Cronenberg (A History of Violence) much to work with. He doesn’t give the film a focus. Is it about Jung and his ill-considered affair? About psychology? About the two psychology greats? About what?
And when dealing with details of the mind, and the motivation of the characters, everything stays on the surface. Debates about this theory or that are not only, uninteresting, they are often convoluted.
Once Knightley gets over her fit, she’s not bad. Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class) and Viggo Mortensen (The Lord of the Rings) do Jung and Freud in that order. The two actors dig into their characters as best they can. Neither has much meat but these are pros and both give worthy performances.
Worthy performances. Yes. But it’s just not enough. My analysis: you just won’t care.
Mr. Movie rating: 3 stars
Rated R for mature themes, nudity. It opens Friday, Feb. 3 at the Carmike 12.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.