102- A Dangerous Method [6.0]

Seduced by the challenge of an impossible case, the driven Dr. Carl Jung takes the unbalanced yet beautiful Sabina Spielrein as his patient.

Both the historical figures and topics at the center of A Dangerous Method are endlessly fascinating. Be it the relationship between Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud, or psychoanalysis being explored and potentially limited due to the fears of its reception, there should be no shortage of interesting material to keep the viewer intrigued. Instead, David Cronenberg’s film goes from one scene to the next without much dynamic change.

That’s not to say that A Dangerous Method is largely a bore. Jung and Freud’s admiration and jealousy for each other is displayed in a subtle fashion until their relationship completely fractures. Considering their vast intellect, I appreciated that there wasn’t some verbal blow out shouting match nor venomous, manipulative attacks; rather, their competitive, jealous, and opposing views all play a part over the course of the film in giving ample reason as to why they split from each other both professionally and as friends. It’s a shame, though, that there is no emotional weight under any of it.

A Dangerous Method is best when Jung and Freud are simply bouncing ideology off each other. Michael Fassbender turns in yet another terrific performance, but it’s Viggo Mortensen that is at the best I’ve seen him as Sigmund Freud. His slow, almost cautious delivery shows Freud as a man who’s rarely at a lack of understanding, yet always measures his words carefully. Props are due to the makeup department, as Mortensen truly looked like someone else.

The one performance that I imagine is going to be divisive is that of Keira Knightley’s as Sabina Spielrein. The opening scenes showcase her in the middle of a nervous breakdown, and her acting teeters dangerously between captivating and scenery chewing. There were times in the first act where I was so unsure if her acting was laughable that it took me out of the movie completely. Her Russian accent, though not great, is at least somewhat consistent throughout.

The movie occasionally slips into melodrama (especially at the end) but largely shies away from it. I felt largely conflicted throughout as my appreciation for what is being covered in Method is something that interests me greatly, but perhaps not played out in this fashion.

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