Review: A Dangerous Method

This is a wonderful examination of the origins of psychotherapy through its most pivotal minds, including the oft-forgotten Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightly.) Keira Knightly is charged with a ferocious sexual energy, and gives a visceral performance stricken with grief and terror. The heroic antinomian philosophy elaborated by Spielrein in this film is one to live by. Viggo Mortensen’s transformation into Freud had to be the best performance of the year though. He gives great pathos to Freud, even in the midst of his cynical manipulations of both Jung and Spielrein.

Jung (Michael Fassbender), a complacent upper class gentile, never fully comes to terms with his abundant libido and this discomfort with his sexual nature leads him to make a mess of his affair with Spielrein. The perspective of the film seems to be that Jung’s grasping for explanations beyond the “merely sexual” are simply an expression of this general discomfort–his whiteness, to put it bluntly. His professional ambition, willful naivete, and latent classism, culminate in a series of cruel insults to Freud during their trip to America.

Jung ends the film looking broken and humiliated, despite being on the cusp of a long and fruitful career. Freud ultimately fled from Nazi Vienna to London, where he died of cancer not long afterwards. Spielrein’s fate was the most awful of all.

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