Director David Cronenberg explores the beginnings of psychoanalysis. He masterfully guides his cast through their paces and no one makes any slips – Freudian or otherwise. It’s quite a different turn from Cronenberg, but a film that delves into the human mind.
Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) takes on deranged Russian patient Sabrina Spielrein (Keira Knightley). He begins to treat her with new methods that he has read about from Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) and she begins to recover. Jung is able to actually travel to Vienna to consult with Freud. Sabrina recovers enough that Jung takes her on as a research assistant, but he also begins to develop feelings for her yet his morality keeps him from acting on them.
Freud recommends patient Otto Gross (Vincent Cassel) start seeing Jung, but Gross’ influence makes Jung act on his feelings towards Spielrein. This will begin a rift between Freud and Jung as well as a lasting effect on Jung’s psyche.
I’ve often thought that some people study to be psychiatrists so that they can engage in self-diagnosis. Sometimes some students are as disturbed as their patients.
Certainly the exploration of the mind can be fraught with dangers. Do you adhere to morality or do you do as thou wilt (modern translation: if it feels good do it)? What we see in Cronenberg’s film is two varying ways of dealing with psychiatry. As well as seeing that actions, differences, and ego get in the way of pure scientific discovery.
Freud stanchly sees everything as stemming from the sexual and Jung wants to innovate and branch out into other areas that might seem supernatural. And yes, Mr. Freud, sex gets in the way as well. Both sides are ably represented in the acting field by Fassbender and Mortensen. I kept forgetting that it was Mortensen after a while since he disappeared into Freud.
Knightley also throws off some of her glamour to play the disturbed person that eventually grows into a professional. The film evokes the time period and adds humanity to the very human figures that may be lionized in the field. Cronenberg helms this period piece with a steady hand, breathes life into the characters, and you see his maturing as a filmmaker.
A Dangerous Method is presented in a 1080p transfer (1.85:1). Special features, high definition unless noted, include a commentary from director Cronenberg, the 8 minute “Making of a Dangerous Method” (standard definition), the 30 minute AFI Masters Seminar with Cronenberg, and the 2 minute theatrical trailer.
A Dangerous Method humanizes the founders of a field that deals with the intricacies of the human mind. It’s a fascinating look at the beginnings of the field as well as of the events that shaped the men and women behind it. It’s also fascinating to see the maturation of Cronenberg as a filmmaker.
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