The fascinating correspondence between Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) and Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) via letters served as the birth of psychoanalysis, but they eventually fell out over a disagreement. Freud’s air of superiority and insistence upon tracing everything back to sex aggravated Jung greatly. Ironically, the theories he wished to disprove ended up proving true in his own life.
Suitably smug, condescending and sex-obsessed, Mortensen comfortably plays Freud’s pipe-smoking persona to perfection. But the focus of this film is upon his younger protégé.
Jung is married with a baby on the way. A brilliant and respectable doctor, he is set in his beliefs until two people come into his life and upset its careful balance.
The first is a young, extremely disturbed Russian patient named Sabina (Keira Knightley) who Jung takes a special interest in. I’m sure you know where this is going. The second is fellow doctor Otto Gross (Vincent Cassel) who also becomes Jung’s patient. Sexually “liberated”, he never denies himself and encourages Jung to follow suit.
Both patients are obviously mentally unhinged, but as they each begin to find their own kind of peace and stability, it is Jung who is slowly driven mad.
The film delivers technically, but there are a few problems. Jung proves to be weak and unlikeable and this makes for rather unsatisfying viewing. And some of the scenes involving Sabina (particularly early on) can be very uncomfortable to watch. Fortunately, her character develops in a surprisingly satisfying way by the end.
The beautiful cinematography by Peter Suschitzky is a stand out. He has worked with director David Cronenberg before and they certainly compliment one another. Every shot is captured with preciseness.
Though interesting enough, A Dangerous Method can be hard to sit through at times. It is not for the conservative or easily embarrassed. At least it looks good.