I just came from a screening of David Cronenberg's "A Dangerous Method," in which Keira Knightley as Sabina
Spielrein kicks and screams and laughs hysterically as she's dragged from a
carriage into the Bürgholzi Mental Hospital to be treated by Michael
Fassbender's Carl Jung.
Yesterday I went to a screening of "Young Adult,"
directed by Jason Reitman from a script by Diablo Cody, in which Charlize
Theron (an old hand at disturbed characters after her serial killer in
"Monster") plays a woman who is acutely depressed, alcoholic, and
self-destructively obsessed with a man she went out with over fifteen years
I'm starting to think that every nomination for Best Actress this
year will be for someone portraying a
basket case. Maybe it's a carryover from Natalie Portman's triumph last year in
"Black Swan." But then
mental disability has traditionally been the road to Oscar gold for men also, as
with winner Dustin Hoffman in "Rain Man" and
nominee Russell Crowe in "A Beautiful Mind."
Some more out-of-their-mind Oscar contenders? How about another
depressive case, the woman played by Kirsten Dunst in Lars Von Trier's
"Melancholia," who is so bummed out that she summons up the title planet to
slam into earth to end her life, and every one else's.
Or the hapless and
suicidal nymphomaniac and probable sufferer from Borderline Personality
Disorder played by Carey Mulligan in "Shame?"
Or the escapee from a mind
controlling cult who is losing her grip on reality played by Elizabeth Olsen in
Sean Durkin's "Martha Marcy May Marlene?"
True, not all the on-screen crazies this year are women. There's
Michael Fassbender's sex addict, also in "Shame,"
who probably could use some of the dangerous method practiced by the actor's
character in the Cronenberg movie. And Michael Shannon as the is-he-nuts-or-is-he-a-prophet
character in Jeff Nichol's "Take Shelter."
Nor are all the leading Academy candidates playing a character who is unhinged.
Streep as Margaret Thatcher in Phyllida Lord's "The Iron Lady" (with a
screenplay by Abi Morgan, co-writer of "Shame"). Unless you think someone who
would wage a war over the Falkland Islands
might not be totally sane.