A Dangerous Method


A look at how the intense relationship between Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud gives birth to psychoanalysis.

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Just by reading the description, you can guess that this movie is going to be dialogue heavy and analytically worded. But there is no doubt that it is an accurate representation of what the conversations and thought processes were actually like. The entire actual story of this period of history is really quite interesting, and I like that it has been brought to the attention of American movie-goers.

Read the rest of my review after the break.

We jump directly into the content and context of the movie, as a screaming, jaw-jutting, writhing woman is dragged into a large hospital. It is this hospital that Carl Jung, played by Michael Fassbender [Shame, X-Men: First Class], works, and it is this new patient Sabina Spielrein, played by Kiera Knightly [Pride & Prejudice, The Pirates of the Caribbean], with which he decides to try the newly created process of psychoanalysis. It is a method of therapy that his unacquainted colleague Sigmund Freud [Viggo Mortensen (A History of Violence, The Road)] has developed, but not yet performed or researched publicly.

Progress is made between Jung and Spielrein over the course of two years, and she is even enrolled in medical school and has a desire to become a psychologist. Jung is able to meet with Freud, and they discuss their work for 13 hours straight. During all this, Jung’s relationship with his wife Emma [Sarah Gadon] and their miscues on childbirth and other things clearly has an effect on Jung. When Freud asks Jung to take on a patient, Otto Cross [Vincent Cassel], who was a therapist himself, is able to sneak his methods of having sexual relations with patients into Jung’s mind, and he decides to have one with his longtime patient, Spielrein. That’s when things start to unravel.

In a movie that is all talking, you need to find some people who can talk well. The performances were really the only thing that stuck out, but not all of them. Fassbender and Mortensen both give precise, vehement performances of the father figures of psychoanalysis, and it is interesting to see their change in relationship as the movie progresses. Knightly, on the other hand, goes a little over the top in some situations. Her squirming and shaking and facial tweaking is a bit too much and unnecessary at some points. This does add some complexity to her career abilities to act, but this one just missed the mark.

The story, I find, takes a certain level of preexisting interest in the subject matter. The portrayal seems accurate, but doesn’t do much to create interest in itself, if that makes sense. If you are not interested in psychoanalysis or psychiatry in general, I fear you may find this movie largely on the slow and boring side. It does pick up in the later half, if you can make it through to that point. I seems as though director David Cronenberg [The Fly, A History of Violence] made this for those looking to learn additionally, not initially.

My Rating

 2.5/4.0 – Although a bit on the slow side and not really made for those not interested in the subject matter, A Dangerous Method is an interesting story of the birth of psychoanalysis, lead by two strong performances from Fassbender and Mortensen.

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