A Dangerous Method
Directed by David Cronenberg
Written by Christopher Hampton, based on his play “The Talking Cure” and the book A MOST DANGEROUS METHOD, by John Kerr.
Starring, Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley, Vincent Cassel

PLOT: “A Dangerous Method” opens in 1904 when Sabina Spielrein (Knightley) arrives at Jung’s (Fassbender) Zurich clinic. She is in the grip of a manic episode and her face and body are distorted with her agony. Knightley resembles an insect in these scenes, so severe is her mania. (And so little is her weight).

Through Freud’s (Mortensen) new talking cure, Jung is able to bring some semblance of normalcy to the young woman. But following the advice of colleague, Otto Gross, Jung embarks on an affair with Knightley, allowing her to act out her sexual fantasies. This disrupts, of course, his ability to work with her. (As Freud would have predicted).

Jung and Freud meet during Spielrein’s therapy and have interesting discussions about therapy, sex and religion. We travel between Zurich and Vienna as the men share their dreams (actual dreams not aspirations) and begin to diverge in what forms psychoanalysis should take. Eventually Spielrein becomes Freud’s patient and goes on to a success career as an analyst herself.

This was an earnest attempt to portray the period where the two men meet. It delineates well how they took separate paths with their therapeutic approaches. It is lovely to look at. But it was a very static film for me. That David Cronenberg directed it is doubly surprising. A reenactment of their dreams might have helped. Instead we watch them sit and talk. And talk. And talk. Knightley is so thin that her intimate scenes with Jung are more frightening than sexual.

This was a film that was good enough to recommend, but I can’t help thinking it could have been much better.

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