Writer-director’s follow-up to Once, looks shinier and has movie stars (Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo) instead of musicians. Watched out of morbid interest. Not entirely bad, though I wasn’t feeling the magic.
Keira K is a fresh new singer, dumped by her rock star boyfriend after he got famous. She sings a blandly pleasant tune at open-mic where formerly powerful label exec Ruffalo is having a Very Bad Day. He hears her and it turns his pointless life around, as he dedicates himself to finding blandly pleasant arrangements for her songs to record “guerrilla-style” around the city with help from Cee-Lo Green’s backing band and Ruffalo’s estranged daughter on electric guitar.
With Mos Def as Ruffalo’s business partner, Catherine Keener as his ex-wife and Hailee True Grit Steinfeld as his guitar-rockin’ daughter.
Keira Knightley (Atonement) is amazing as a perverse mental patient turned psychoanalyst. The movie is mainly focused on her (sometimes quite inappropriate) relationship with Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender of Hunger and Inglorious Basterds), but also about Jung’s relationship with Sigmund Freud (cigar-chomping Viggo Mortensen).
Doesn’t sound like Cronenberg’s usual fare, but his movies have always concerned themselves with sex and the workings of the mind, and Keira proves herself a great Cronenbergian heroine, having fits and jaw-locking facial tics when trying to discuss her past, the mind perverting the body.
Vincent Cassel returns from Eastern Promises in a small role. Sparkling sunlit photography by Cronie regular Peter Suschitzky. Closing titles tell us that Keira’s character Sabina Spielrein returned to her native Germany and was murdered by nazis. Jung has previously been played by Max von Sydow and Freud by Liev Schreiber, Bud Cort, Alec Guinness and… Max von Sydow.