For me, A Dangerous Method (2011) is David Cronenberg‘s tastiest and wickedest film — intense, sexually upfront and occasionally arousing and yet highly cerebral, dramatically complex and certainly perverse.

I watched it again last night, and whoa, mamaVincent Cassel‘s Otto Gross (1877-1920), a real-life Austrian psychoanalyst and sensualist outlaw, is easily the most fascinating character.

Not to take anything away from the carefully calibrated performances of co-leads Michael Fassbender (Carl Jung), Keira Knightley (Sabina Spielrein) and Viggo Mortensen (Sigmund Freud), but they’re made of earnest dramatic fibre. Cassell’s Gross is a pure groin rebel, and serving of dessert.

Cassel to Le Soir: “The character of Otto Gross is special, a kind of trap…a kind of Trojan Horse! That is to say, we send him for something and he does something else. I find my character very modern. It’s a bit like the manager of the Rolling Stones finding himself dropped into a period film. And, above all, he has very good lines. So, all in all, I couldn’t refuse. I had to play this role.”

Wiki excerpt: “A champion of an early form of anti-psychiatry and sexual liberation, Gross developed an anarchist form of depth psychology which rejected the civilising necessity of psychological repression proposed by Freud. He adopted a modified form of the proto-feminist and neo-pagan a Bohemian drug user from youth, as well as an advocate of free love, he is sometimes credited as a founding grandfather of 20th century counterculture.”

A Dangerous Method‘s epiloque reveals the fates of the four analysts. Gross starved to death in Berlin in 1920. Freud died of cancer in London in 1939 after being driven out of Vienna by the Nazis. Spielrein trained a number of analysts in the Soviet Union, before she and her two daughters were shot by the Nazis in 1942. Jung emerged from a nervous breakdown to become the world’s leading psychologist before dying in 1961.”