September 20, 2020

A Dangerous Method Probes the Depths

posted on: Thursday March 1, 2012

Marisa Urgo ’14/A&E Staff

There is rarely a film that compels me to actually go to the movies, but as soon as I saw the trailer for A Dangerous Method, I knew I had to see it. David Cronenberg’s new film explores the psychological world in the early 1900s, focusing on a forbidden relationship between psychologist Carl Jung and patient Sabrina Spielrein. Jung (Michael Fasserbender) is treating Spielrein (Keira Knightley) for a distressed condition, perhaps a nervous breakdown. He attempts to experiment with Sigmund Freud’s (Viggo Mortensen) idea of “the talking cure.” This idea is known as psychopathology, or therapy as we look at it today. Although psychology has changed since Freud’s initial introduction, it is essentially the idea of patients using conversation as a catharsis and healing themselves by working out their issues verbally. Although we are now used to this idea, in 1900, it was considered radical. Before Freud, hysteria was treated with hypnosis or even electric shock therapy.

A Dangerous Method impressed me not only with its plot, but also with its applause-worthy performances. Fassbender, as Jung, gave a real sense of being torn during his illicit affair with his patient, and the guilt was readable on his face whenever he would speak to his wife. Mortensen, as Freud, was also great, although I do wish Freud had been featured in more of the story. I’ve always been fascinated with Freud and his unique relationship with Jung, in which they never saw eye to eye. It’s interesting to see them play out, and one of the most memorable parts of the movies is when Freud and Jung realize they have been conversing for 13 hours.

Vincent Cassel’s performance was one of the highlights of the film. It goes to show that the size of the role isn’t as important as what you do with the role. He had few lines but was funny and a vital catalyst in sparking the relationship between Jung and his patient. Keira Knightley gave an impressive performance as the mentally unstable Sabrina Spielrein. It’s interesting to watch a woman ‘s transition from battling a severe mental disorder to becoming a therapist herself. However, ater Knightley stops seeing Jung for treatment, I became curious because it seemed as if she was still on the verge of a breakdown for the rest of the movie. I’m still unsure if this is a result of Keira’s acting, or if it was a part of the allure. Either way, I highly recommend A Dangerous Method because it’s a unique film with an interesting, unconventional plot. As a Psych major who is shamelessly in love with Sigmund Freud, I appreciated the psychological topic and debates. Yet, someone who isn’t into psychology can still find the movie interesting because of the complex relationship between Jung and Spielrein.

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