A Dangerous Method
Dir. David Cronenberg
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen
The IMDb page for Cronenberg’s latest film A Dangerous Method, describes the film as “a look at how the intense relationship between Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud gives birth to psychoanalysis.” And, despite telling you almost nothing about the film, it’s incredibly accurate. In fact, it’s uncannily so.
Unlike the rest of Cronenberg’s work, which deals with issues of body horror and overt existential sexuality, A Dangerous Method is an uncharacteristically cerebral work, focusing, like the work of his subjects Jung (Michael Fassbender) and Freud (Viggo Mortensen), on the internal psychological struggles of Freud and Jung and their relationship with Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley).
That isn’t to say that the film doesn’t deal with bodily horrors. My philosophy professor remarked that the only things that make this at all recognizable as a Cronenberg work are the scenes of Spielrein being spanked by Jung. It’s hard to tell if these scenes are considered research for Jung, or if he’s doing it just to help Spielrien work through her neuroses. In either case, the spanking scenes, unlike similar scenes of sexual humiliation in films like Crash, are uncomfortably hilarious and don’t come across as having the emotional gravitas Cronenberg was so obviously interested in imbuing into his film.
Indeed, the film comes off as not having much of anything and, by the end of it’s nearly two-hour running time, you feel like you saw two hours of build with no climax. It’s a slow, steady, and rather uneventful ride, though one that looks great and is pretty inoffensive. And when it comes to a film about sex, sometimes that’s all you can ask for.