Friday, January 6, 2012

“A Dangerous Method”: Talking But Not Connecting

Based on true events, David Cronenberg’s “A Dangerous Method” depicts two personal conflicts centered around Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung (Michael Fassbinder). There’s the growing estrangement between Jung and Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen), as Jung explores mystical realms dismissed by the father of psychoanalysis. Then there's Jung’s adulterous affair with a former patient and future psychoanalyst, Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley).

Jung is torn between his loyal wife and the passionate and masochistic Spielrein, who formerly suffered from hysteria. In the midst of Jung's turmoil, Spielrein travels to Vienna to meet Freud–seemingly to be treated by him, through they end up discussing psychoanalytic theory. The movie ad states, “Both men fall under Sabina’s spell.” Not quite. As far as Freud is concerned, Jung's adultery with a former patient is just one more reason to disapprove of his former follower. As one would expect in a narrative based on talk therapy, there’s a lot of discussion and analysis–but Jung's conflict with Freud and his affair with Spielrein do not connect enough for a satisfying drama.

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