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A Dangerous Method

A Dangerous Method (2011) is a German-Canadian film directed by David Cronenberg, starring Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen, and Vincent Cassel. Fassbender plays the Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung, who falls in love or lust with a patient, Sabina Spielrein (Knightley), who later became a Russian physician and is now regarded as one of the first female psychoanalysts. The film highlights Sigmund Freud's (Mortensen) contentious relationship with Jung and Spielrein's role between these two men. Otto Gross (Cassel), the Austrian psychoanalyst and later anarchist, is also thrown into the mix. (There ought to be a movie made just about Gross and his adventures/misadventures in South America.)

The film focuses on the relationships between these pioneers of psychoanalysis, who all could have benefited from a good deal of psychotherapy themselves. When they aren't analyzing each other and the dichotomies between them—monogamy and polygamy, Jew and gentile, doctor and patient, instinctive and rational—they're either sharing or quarreling over each other's ideas on matters of psychoanalysis and the direction psychological therapy should take. The film impresses upon us that these four had significant influences on each other, and that their various interactions, dangerous or not, led to forming some of the initial building blocks of methodology for psychoanalysis.

I thought it was okay. The dialogue is rich, and watching Fassbender act with Knightley and with Mortensen is what's most entertaining. That same year, an excellent film with Fassbender, Shame, came out. He's a great actor able to play diverse roles, and the same goes for Knightley and Mortensen, so the most memorable part of A Dangerous Method is seeing these top actors share the screen, with screenwriting by Christopher Hampton (who adapted the novels for films The Quiet American (2002) and Atonement (2007) among a slew of others).

Vincent Cassel in A Dangerous Method
Vincent Cassel in A Dangerous Method


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