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“A Dangerous Method” – Review (SO-SO POSITIVE)

February 4, 2012

It seems like there’s some kind of pattern with Michael Fassbender. After seeing “Shame” the other night, a film about uncontrollable sexual impulses, I dared myself to see another Fassbender film within the same context of that subject matter. David Cronenberg’s “A Dangerous Method” is the story about famous psychiatrist’s Carl Jung & Sigmund Freud and how their sexual exploits reach out to a young woman, creating the birth of psychoanalyst therapy.

Zurich, 1902, Carl Jung (Fassbender) is introduced to an ‘insane’ Russian Jewish woman, Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightly). Sabina psychologically damaged since she was a young girl after being sexually assaulted by her father. Jung wants to help her, but his ability into the sexual psychology doesn’t match to the master, Vienna’s very own Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen). Jung & Freud begin a friendship thanks to the appearance of this Spielrein, but when Jung & Spielrein being to have an affair between one another, relationships begin to sour and rivalry between the two respected doctors is inevitable.

Cronenberg explores the impulses that man faces, when temptation and guidance cross paths between one another. The films main focus is on Jung & Spielrein, in the beginning it was all about helping her, getting into a composed mental state, having her to speak normally again, and accept the minimal dangers of the world. Jung knew that Sabina dreamed of becoming a doctor, therefore he decides to bring her up as an assistant. And here’s where the flaws of the film come in; time jumps. We start out in 1902, then literally jump two years later, Sabina is better, she’s a hard worker, etc. Well, my issue with that is the gap; I personally was interested in her years of progression with Jung. But, to the films credit, that’s not what the stories about, it’s about her influences on to Jung and vice versa.

Freud was just the piece of the puzzle to give some philosophical notions for Jung. Jung comes from a practice background involving mysticism; he wanted to learn more about what is beyond typical science. Yet Freud was grounded in the scientific confines. The very nature of bringing up such wild notions, in Freud’s eyes that is, would be grounds for ruining ones career. At the same time, what systematically turned Jung’s life upside down was in fact Sabina. Jung took on one of Freud’s patients, a man who was also a doctor, Otto Gross (Vincent Cassel). Otto you could say was the spark need to light the fire. His influences on monogamy were dangerous for Jung’s ears, Jung was sent to treat Gross, when what was happening, Gross was treating Jung.

There’s a lot of topsy turvy-ness to the characters in this film, everyone seems to be one-upping one another. You could say that the relationships between Sabina & Jung were meaningful in a sense that after their affair it gave them the sort of push for the notability of their future careers. Sadly though, that leaves out Freud, [director] David Cronenberg I felt underused the character of Freud and really didn’t fully develop him in the grand scheme of things. There a sequence where Jung & Freud sent letters between one another back and forth, I think that was a tool used in the film to make up for the carelessness of the character development in their relationship.

Cronenberg’s strong points has always come from the sexual impulse themes in his movies, you could say this movie has great comparisons to “Videodrome” or “The Fly”. Men who are caught up in the sexual urges surrounding them, feeling entrapped, changing them mentally & physically, for better or worse. However, I feel that this movie would’ve done better with a greater development in the script regarding Jung & Freud relationship.

GRADE: B-

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