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The Jung and the restless: ‘A Dangerous Method’ doesn’t warrant much analysis

 

 
Overview
 

Genre: ,
 
Starring: , ,
 
Directed By:
 
Studio:
 
MPAA Rating:
 
Release Date: November 23, 2011
 
Length: 99 minutes
 
Directing
7.0


 
Plot
6.0


 
Acting
8.0


 
Cinematography
8.0


 
Total Score
7.3
7.3/ 10


 

Whoa


It's well-acted.

No


The references are a little too deliberate.


Bottom Line

Despite its intriguing subject matter, slightly sinister undertones and top notch cast, ultimately comes off as a stuffy art house flick with limited appeal.

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Posted January 30, 2012 by

 
Full Review
 
 

We’re big fans of director David Cronenberg, a consummate artist whose career stretches back to the ’70s and ’80s when he made soon-to-be cult classic horror films such as Rabid, Scanners, Videodrome and The Fly. His recent efforts like 2005’s A History of Violence and 2007’s Eastern Promises were terrific movies with appeal that extended beyond the art house circuit. The same can’t be said for his latest effort, A Dangerous Method, which, despite its intriguing subject matter, slightly sinister undertones and top notch cast, ultimately comes off as a stuffy art house flick with limited appeal.

Based on a 2002 stage play that was, in turn, based on a non-fiction book, A Dangerous Method attempts to explore the reasons behind the rift between Freud (Viggo Mortensen) and Jung (Michael Fassbender). As the film commences, Jung is attempting to treat Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightly), a patient who suffers from debilitating masochistic desires. The scene in which Jung asks Sabina about her abusive father is excruciating to watch as the tortured patient’s responses are punctuated by violent stuttering and stammering.

Eventually, however, Jung, who befriends Freud along the way, helps Sabina overcome her illness to the point where she can enroll in medical school and begin studying psychology. She and Jung begin having a somewhat twisted affair, but Jung keeps this secret from Freud as he fears being reprimanded for his lack of discretion. Jung also begins to question Freud’s methods, wondering whether he doesn’t strive hard enough to offer his patients alternate and happier futures. On a trip to the United States, their social and philosophical differences cause the two to sever their friendship. And eventually Jung also breaks ties with Sabina, devoting himself wholeheartedly to the writing of his book.

If you don’t go into this film already knowing the theories of Freud and Jung, you’re not likely to find much here of interest. The film is littered with Oedipal conflicts, oral fixations,  class, racial and gender issues, but they are all just a little too deliberate. While the storyline is easy enough to follow, the characters (save a few very human and almost funny lines from Freud) are all so serious and deeply philosophical, it’s difficult to sympathize with or relate to any of them.


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