A Dangerous Method

A Dangerous Method


David Cronenberg (A History of Violence) directs this true drama based on the turbulent love triangle that developed between two towering intellectuals of our age - Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) and protege Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) - and a troubled patient (Kiera Knightley).... More

Based on the play The Talking Cure by Christopher Hampton, which was based on the nonfiction novel A Most Dangerous Method by John Kerr.Hide

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Flicks Review

Even for an adaptation of a play called The Talking Cure, the characters in David Cronenberg’s latest don’t half blather. Whether by lecture or letter, at the dinner table or in the bedroom, they’re endlessly intellectualising. At one point Freud (Mortensen) asks his protégé Jung (Fassbender) if he realises they’ve been chatting for 13 hours. The audience won’t be so surprised.... More

It’s not that the topics in question – the founding principles of psychology, desire vs repression, whether Jung should really be shagging his patient (Knightley) – don’t merit the screen-time. It’s just that this stiff prestige picture could be a radio play and all you’d miss is Keira making ugly in the hope of an Oscar. There’s far too much talent involved for it to misfire badly, but it’s still Cronenberg’s least involving work since 1993’s M. Butterfly.

For all the psychologising we only get rudimentary portraits of Jung and Freud as men, while Knightley’s histrionic performance verges on the embarrassing. As a child, her character, we learn, liked to sit on one foot, simultaneously withholding and releasing her excrement. Somehow her facial expressions suggest this exact movement throughout.

It’s a pity because there are some juicy Cronenbergian concepts here – how “destructive forces can also be creative ones” (see Shivers, The Fly, The Dead Zone); how “not to repress yourself is to release all kinds of dangerous forces” (Videodrome, Dead Ringers, Crash). But they’re endlessly analysed rather than dramatised, and when lined up against the director’s earlier, no-holds-barred efforts, A Dangerous Method only talks the talk.Hide

The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 4 ratings, 4 reviews
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BY telbee nobody

The movie was a vehicle to explore the history of Freud and Jung and their ultimate differences. Those discussions were the only viable content of the movie. Knightley was annoying, Emma was too dinky when in truth both were strong women who went on to become successful psychoanalysts themselves. But name 'stars' and a good spanking are the stuff that is thought to win audiences. Besides being pretty, it was a disappointing outing from Cronenberg who is usually deeper than this movie. ... More Worthy performance from Viggo Mortenson.Hide

Extract from Theaterofthecommonman.com

Many will argue with my conjecture that film makers such as Cronenberg walk a fine line between mastery and ineptitude. On the one hand you have a man who has remained true to vision, a true auteur by definition, on the other the hand his warped stance on existence means that often the audience is left wondering one or two things, firstly what the F*ck is going on and hang on wait, but... huh?. For the average viewer of average intellect such as me,... More this all culminates in an alienation of sorts, I'm generally confused as to why someone would go out of their way to unhinge me and not even have the decency to try and leave me fulfilled.

And unfulfilled is exactly how I felt tonight as I watched his latest 'film' A Dangerous Method. This effort is the most perplexing yet, not only does he attempt to remain relatively linear, but he does so in one of the most blatantly half-baked films ive seen this year, remember I've seen Adam Sandlers Jack and Jill.

A Dangerous Method, proceeds to outline the true stories of Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightly) and Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) all of whom were pioneers in their respective fields of psychoanalytics. Whilst working in a psychiatric hospital in Zurich, Carl Jung encounter's a most peculiar patient by the name of Sabina Spielrein whom has been admitted with a common case of hysteria. Jung determines that Sabina is the perfect case to attempt one of Freud's untested methods of treatment. This gives him cause to meet and consult with great Freud over the progress of her treatment, although as their relationship builds their different core beliefs are exposed to one another leading to a tumultuous relationship.

I guess after the last two golden years of Michael Fassbender's career I was curious to see what direction he would take with Cronenberg. Sadly it was as expected, only Cronenberg could rip a man from the peek of his popularity down to humdrum vanity. I'm so un inspired i cannot even bring myself to compliment the very vivid and proficient photography, meh. Knightly's better than average outing was all that saved A Dangerous Method from getting a coveted 1 star, Needless to say A Dangerous Method wasn't my bag.Hide

BY KeefScorsese superstar

David Cronenberg, undoubtedly one of the most provocative film makers (Videodrome, Naked Lunch and Crash instantly come to mind), comes up surprisingly short in hitting the mark here.

The idea of sexual repression serves as a narrative backbone. The turbulent relationships between Sigmund Freud (Mortensen) Carl Jung (Fassbender) and Sabina Spielrein (Knightley) are presented but are unfortunately inaccessible to the audience.

I, a Cronenberg fan, was excited for this given the material.... More Cronenberg has demonstrated a knack for examining the concept of mind against body (Scanners, The Fly, Dead Ringers) yet A Dangerous Method proves to be, for lack of a better term, repressed. It is repressed in its own narrative structure where the intellectual ramblings between Freud and Jung sadly do not provide an insight to their personalities. It is a case of the professor is on show but not "the man". As for Knightley, her performance verges almost on the unbearable. This is unfortunate because you can really tell she's giving it her all which makes it even more disappointing.

I wanted to be educated by this film. I wanted to be shocked by this film. I wanted this film to provoke questions. But in the end, I was found wanting.Hide

BY alpheta lister

Despite the material being a potential treasure chest of intellectual and emotional food for thought, for me this movie was underwhelming, to say the least. I never felt quite involved and even found myself surprisingly bored at times, despite the beautiful cinematography and the brave attempts by the actors to bring everything to life. Keira Knightley, for once thankfully not pouting her way through an entire role, obviously gave it her all, unfortunately it was unconvincing and bordering on... More embarrassing at times. This should have been fascinating and powerful, and it was neither, the script just did not do this wonderful topic justice, and the best thing about it turned out to be the discussion I enjoyed with my companion once we exited the cinema. On that level, it worked, but all in all, a disappointment.Hide

The Press Reviews

78% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • Spielrein's name is less familiar than the others, but the film suggests she deserves to be more than a footnote in the history of psychoanalysis. Full Review

  • Using a dialogue-heavy approach that's unusual for Cronenberg, his film is skilled at the way it weaves theory with the inner lives of its characters. We are learning, yet never feel we're being taught. Full Review

  • Despite a top-notch cast performing well, and bravely in the case of Knightley, this is an austere, somewhat repressed movie. It never really gets under the skin in the way Cronenberg does at his best. Full Review

  • Precise, lucid and thrillingly disciplined, this story of boundary-testing in the early days of psychoanalysis is brought to vivid life by the outstanding lead performances of Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen and Michael Fassbender. Full Review

  • In the movie's final shot, Jung's confidence crumbles and he looks supremely troubled, still uncertain of a world he once believed could be explained with textual prowess. Better than any analysis, his expression sums up the dangerous method at the heart of every Cronenberg movie. Full Review

  • Full of ideas about sexuality - some quite provocative, even a century after their first articulation - but it also recognizes and communicates the erotic power of ideas. Full Review

  • The actors give it their all, especially Knightley, whose jaw- jutting, heavily accented and unfairly criticized portrayal gives the film its fighting spirit. Full Review

  • Instead we get Knightley, who juts her chin, quakes, shakes and bugs her eyes, but nothing about her pain calls out to us, because nothing in it seems real. Full Review

  • The most compelling scenes are those between Mortensen and Fassbender, while Knightley gives a fair performance but lumbers herself with a distracting accent, and her gurning in the early scenes may be too much for some to bear. Full Review

  • The talky emphasis may alienate, but Cronenberg’s psychoanalysis session offers wry writing, elegant direction and fine leads. Full Review

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