Written by Christopher Hampton
Directed by David Cronenberg
Starring Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley and Viggo Mortensen
Otto Gross: If there is one thing I’ve learned in my short life, it’s this: Never repress anything.
Canadian director, David Cronenberg, is synonymous with exploring sexuality and psychology on screen. In his latest epic, A DANGEROUS METHOD, he lets our minds get lost amidst these two forces as they intersect in Austria during the birth of modern psychology. What should have been an explosion of intense thought and tantalizing eroticism unfortunately amounts to little more than awkward conversation.
Like so much of psychoanalysis, some things make perfect sense on the page but do not necessarily apply past the theory. On paper, A DANGEROUS METHOD should work. Michael Fassbender plays Carl Jung, the founder of analytical psychology, who engages in a father-son like relationship with Sigmund Freud, played by three-time Cronenberg collaborator, Viggo Mortensen. Freud’s beliefs surrounding psychological trauma tended to be sexual in nature and this would inevitably cause an irreparable rift between them as Jung thought there had to be more to it than that. The situation was only further exacerbated by Jung’s own affair with one of his own patients, Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley). The two enter a kinky relationship that really only proves Freud’s point but men being men, neither will admit any fault.
A DANGEROUS METHOD is aptly performed by its talented cast and beautifully shot and composed but it never truly comes alive. Considering the film itself is about repression, it certainly feels as though it could have used some loosening up. Instead, its tightly wound setting and nature eventually lead to its own unravelling.