Directed by: David Cronenberg
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Viggo Mortenson, Kiera Knightly
Review: The doctor and the patient, one is completely chaotic, the other is the picture of control. Such is the balance of things. Naturally, the closer one gets to “normal” the more the see-saw tips for the other. Perhaps by gaining control over another, we lose control of ourselves. Or perhaps giving up control to someone else denies your own ability to maintain order. Such is the juxtaposition of ideas that never quite seem to gel for ‘A Dangerous Method.’
As professionals and scholars Doctor Sigmund Freud and Dr. Carl Jung legitimized a profession that, in it’s infancy, was looked at as only a notch better than witchcraft. Without them the practice of psychoanalysis might not have ever been legitimized. The questions remains though, was their struggle for legitimacy simply to make their practice respected or actually propelled by a deep seeded desire for knowledge?
Through Dr. Jung’s first psychoanalysis patient Sabina Spielrein, both he and Dr. Freud learn the true power of their craft. Through their methods they have learned how to release their patients. They now have the ability to free these people from the problems that ail them in their lives. In so doing, they have also freed the notion that no matter what they provide their patients cannot be healed.
We are all human. On various levels we all share the same emotions, urges, and desires. In the same respect, we are all held captive by our humanity. The very same urges and desires that make us human are the ones we deny ourselves on a daily basis. It is this struggle that presents the issues psychoanalysis purports to help 'cure.' Doctors Freud and Jung contend that only by understanding and releasing those urges can any sort of healing be achieved.
Dr. Freud submits that all urges flow back into our nature as sexual beings. Dr. Jung believes that things aren’t quite as simple to be so linearly explained by one aspect of our nature. It is Dr. Jung’s belief that there is more out there to explore that can lead to better understanding. This includes such outlandish ideas as telepathy and parapsychology. Eventually, it is these differences that cause a major rift between the relationship of Dr. Freud and Dr. Jung.
Effectively working more as a presentation of facts, ‘A Dangerous Method’ attempts to string together actual events to create a dramatic storyline. Spanning more than a decade, cohesion in the storyline is hard to come by. The relationship Dr. Jung has with Spielrein looks to be the main story but has the feeling of subtext to emphasize the underlying issue. As subtext, this would have been much more effective. The more interesting dynamic of Dr. Jung and Dr. Freud’s relationship seemingly plays second fiddle to a less appealing story.
As Dr. Freud, Mortenson gives one of the finest performances of the year. Dr. Freud had some very good ideas, but what made him such a major player was seemingly his conviction and charisma. The way he presented information one had no choice but to agree. Such was his power and perhaps the power that went along with psychoanalysis. Fassbender has had an incredibly busy year and it looks to be finally catching up with him as he looked tired and bored through most of this film.
Knightly went overboard with her character in the hopes that the Academy would look at this and possibly see a spark of genius to reward. She was wrong and the Academy was thankfully right. Maybe Meryl Streep could pull it off, but not Knightly. At least not yet. You can tell she believes she is her character but doesn’t believe in her character. She is acting through this whole movie and it is painfully obvious.
The editing was also disjointed and appeared rushed and haphazard. Continuity was hard to follow and the consistency of a sure hand was surprisingly absent. Cronenberg is revered in many circles as a genius, or at least a fan favorite, but I have never been all that impressed. This movie does nothing to further my opinion.
This is not worth your time.