A Dangerous Method (15)
Director: David Cronenberg.
Stars: Michael Fassebender, Keira Knightly, Viggo Mortensen and Vincent Cassel.
THIS is an odd one to be found within the canon of David Cronenberg, who made his name with gory horror flicks.
It’s a serious study of the ill-advised relationship which grew between psychiatrist Carl Jung and one of his patients, Sabina Spielrein.
Spielrein is sectioned and placed under the therapy of doctor Jung who has been charged with finding why the young woman is so prone to attacks and fits.
He discovers a fascination with her father and an incestuous thrill when the parent spanked her.
It soon becomes obvious that Spielrein has fallen in love with her doctor. However, the straight-laced, play-it-by-the-book Jung rejects her advances.
Meanwhile, Jung is also having sessions with another doctor, Otto Gross, who was admitted for his unfaithful ways – with several women.
While Jung fails to cure Gross of his womanising, the latter cures Jung of his fidelity and he goes on to seduce the young woman in his care.
Married with children, you just know this will not turn out well.
But a more serious look at Jung’s relationship with Sigmund Freud would have made for better drama.
Unfortunately, the latter would not have had a romantic/sexual plot and Hollywood may have cooled towards the idea. Nevertheless, the Jung/Freud relationship does play quite a big part of the story – it’s just not as involved as it could be.
We see the first meeting of the two who would play a major part in the founding of psychoanalysis.
Knightly must have sensed this was a part that could open new doors of serious acting as she threw herself heart and soul into the role of Sabina.
An actress not unknown for her beauty, she can make herself look fairly unattractive in her scenes when the illness takes hold.
Mortensen acquitted himself well enough in his limited role as the father of psychoanalysis.
But the let down for me was Michael Fassbender. Here is a name we here of constantly as if he is the next Olivier, yet, in his performance of Carl Jung he is almost emotionless for the entire film.
It’s a tactic that would be necessary when dealing with patients, but not when you’re breaking up with your lover and Fassbender didn’t seem capable of drawing that distinction.