David Cronenberg is a cult author hometown and one of the greatest players in Toronto has never been on the stage of world cinema.
So you would think that a dangerous method, his first new film in four years, would be an obvious choice of the gala opening of the slot 2011 Toronto International Film Festival – especially when there is no Horror.
But guess again. This movie, laden with prestige, will almost certainly be in the TIFF lineup, but not in the prime opening night gala slot.
That is because for the second consecutive year, TIFF has been trumped by a rival film festival in Venice, which starts two weeks earlier than the younger but livelier Toronto event.
Here we go again.
Last year it was Barney’s Version, produced by Robert Lantos, that had its world premiere in Venice and turned up at TIFF just a few days later. Now we can rerun the tape and we’re seeing almost the same story playing out in 2011.
Score: The Hockey Musical opened the 2010 Toronto film festival instead of Barney, the year’s most keenly anticipated Canadian movie.
A Dangerous Method is clearly British in most respects rather than Canadian, but because Cronenberg was in the director’s chair, we’re entitled to claim it as our own. The History of Violence in 2005 and Eastern Promises in 2007, the last two Cronenberg movies at TIFF, were both big hits.
A Dangerous Method is based on British writer Christopher Hampton’s play The Talking Cure, about how Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung more or less invented psychoanalysis more than a century ago.
Set in Zurich and Vienna, it tells the story of Jung’s relationship with a woman named Sabina Spielrein, who went on to become a noted female psychoanalyst after being Jung’s patient in a sexually charged relationship.
Hampton, who won a screenwriting Oscar for Dangerous Liaisons and was a nominee for Atonement, adapted his own play. Viggo Mortensen plays Freud, Michael Fassbender is cast as Jung, and Keira Knightley has the fascinating role of Sabina.
Last week Sony Pictures Classics announced it has acquired U.S. distribution rights to A Dangerous Method. SPC was also the U.S. distributor for Barney.
But why should Toronto is eclipsed by Venice in both cases?
In case you were wondering, neither Lantos nor Cronenberg resides in the Lido or on the Grand Canal. Nor are they among the regulars at Harry’s Bar.
Indeed, they live around the corner from one another in Forest Hill. Both are Toronto boosters, but it serves the interest of their movies to be showcased at both these important festivals on opposite sides of the ocean.
Every year the Venice festival unspools before TIFF. And out of pride, Piers Handling and Cameron Bailey are not going to hand their opening night gala slot to a movie that has just had its world premiere at a rival festival.
So they’ll be looking for another movie to draw a standing ovation while waving the maple leaf flag at Roy Thomson Hall on Thursday, Sept. 8.
It won’t be Midnight’s Children, about India’s leap from colony to independence. It’s based on Salman Rushdie’s Booker Prize novel and directed by the gifted and fearless Deepa Mehta, who gave TIFF a night to remember with the premiere of her magnificent Water in 2005.
Why not? Because her new movie filmed earlier this year in Sri Lanka, won’t be ready in time. Mehta will be in the editing room, with a post-production schedule that goes until the end of the year. And Midnight’s Children won’t be at TIFF in the fall of 2012, either, because it is almost sure to be released in the first half of the year.
While we’re on the subject of Barney, we note that will be released on DVD next week eOne. And for those of us who have seen and enjoyed the movie on the big screen, but left even thirstier, the DVD offers some delicious dishes with half an hour of deleted scenes. Among them: a torrid exchange in which Saul Rubinek as the father of the hippie Barney’s girlfriend, Clara, visits horrible Barney (Paul Giamatti), after the suicide of Clara.