A Dangerous Method (Cronenberg, 2011)

A Dangerous Method (David Cronenberg, 2011)

On a boat to America on a cool evening, Jung asks Freud if he can analyze one of his dreams. Freud politely declines and no more is mentioned on the subject. While a somewhat small scene, this is the peak of what I found to be the most important of the film’s conflicts. Are these two men equal colleagues like Jung presumes? Or is Freud a mentor to Jung like Freud supposes? It makes for an interesting dynamic every time these two are together (even before this scene, you knew something was boiling) and is only helped by the fact that Mortensen and Fassbender give excellent performances. Mortensen is particularly good as he completely loses himself in Freud. (I always find it fascinating when a well-known actor can portray a non-fictional character and not make it feel like an act.)

Overall the direction of the film is a bit suspect though. On the one hand you have a subtle tiger-and-lion type game between the two psychoanalysts. But on the other hand there’s the overly dramatic relationship between Jung and his mistress (played horribly by Keira Knightly). I’ve read that Cronenberg directed Knightly to be over-the-top and emphatic in her portrayal of mentally unstable, but regardless of whose decision it was, it feels forced. And even their personal relationship follows the blueprint of a standard Hollywood drama, though cleverly disguised behind madness which, I admit, made it more compelling.  7.5/10

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