¨Experiences like this, however painful, unnecessary and inevitable, without them, how can we know life? ¨
David Cronenberg`s A Dangerous Method was one of my most anticipated films of 2011 for several reasons: First of all I loved Cronenberg and Viggo Mortensen`s first two collaborations together in A History of Violence and Eastern Promises. Those two films were among my favorite when they were released. Mortensen has always worked really well with Cronenberg and I had high expectations for his role as Sigmund Freud in this film. Add Micheal Fassbender, who has turned everything he touches into gold this year; to the mix and you have yourself one of the most anticipated films of the year. I was really looking forward to what these three men could do together alongside the beautiful Keira Knightley. I`m not familiar with psychoanalysis, but I do tend to enjoy the subject matter somewhat so I was really looking forward to this movie. Perhaps those high expectations were my downfall because this was a completely different movie from the previous two that Cronenberg had directed. This was more focused on the dialogue and relationship between the characters. This isn’t an action film with shocking scenes; it is more of a reflective film that analyzes the relationship between Freud, Jung, and Spielrein. I just felt the pace of the movie was too slow and that there wasn’t enough time between the transitions to further develop each character and their relationship together. I felt like I had seen an incomplete film, or that several scenes were missing. The film focuses more on the relationship between Jung and his Russian patient Spielrein, and not so much on Freud, so that was something else I wish would`ve been different.
The film is based on John Kerr`s book of the same name, and from Hampton`s play ¨The Talking Cure.¨ Hampton himself adapted the screenplay for this movie. The story takes place during the early 1900`s in Europe. Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) is a psychiatrist and firm believer in Freud`s recent theories. When a young Russian patient named Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) is sent to him at his office in Switzerland, he finds the opportunity to apply Freud`s methods on her. Jung has amazing results and ends up helping Spielrein and bringing her back to normal society life. Spielrein suffered from some sort of dementia, but thanks to Jung she is able to return to her medical studies. Despite her rehabilitation, Jung continues to treat her, and he writes to Freud (Viggo Mortensen) telling him about his amazing results. Jung is invited to Vienna by Freud and together they have an interesting thirteen hour conversation about their discoveries and theories. They begin an interesting friendship and write to each other over the years about their new findings. They do have their discrepancies in some areas since Freud only is willing to point out the problem, but Jung wants to go further and try to help the patients recover and not just single out their problems. The movie also focuses on Jung`s relationship with Spielrein as she becomes his lover presenting him with an internal conflict since she is his patient, and there is also the fact that he is married to Emma (Sarah Gadon).
The main problem I had with this movie was the pacing the film had. Despite being only 100 minutes long, the movie does feel much longer and it seems to be missing something. I felt like I was seeing an incomplete picture. After a while the dialogues and conversations got boring, despite the fact that the performances were all incredible. Michael Fassbender and Viggo Mortensen are both terrific actors and they shone in the scenes in which they were together, but the problem was that they didn’t share too much screen time together. They spent most of the time corresponding through letters. The main protagonists were Fassbender and Knightley and unfortunately her character wasn’t very fascinating. She did give a good performance, but I just felt at first her dementia was really distracting and exaggerated. It was weird to see her rehabilitated so quickly. I wanted to see more of Viggo Mortensen and less of the others. Vincent Cassel had a small but great supporting role and it was he who mostly influenced Jung into wanting to have an affair with his patient. My expectations were set way to high for this movie and by the end I was disappointed. I hope Mortensen and Cronenberg return to their previous work and continue to collaborate together in a similar project. One that will be more climactic than this film which at moments felt like nothing really interesting was happening.