EW Movie Review: "A Dangerous Method"
”A Dangerous Method” is acclaimed director David Cronenberg’s best film in years. Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly magazine filed the following review.
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In the new David Cronenberg film “A Dangerous Method,” Viggo Mortensen plays Sigmund Freud, Michael Fassbender plays Carl Jung, and Keira Knightley is the tormented Russian Jewish hysteria patient who comes between them. When you consider that Freud and Jung, along with Einstein, were arguably the most influential thinkers of the last century, there’ve been precious few movies that have dealt with who they really were. But in “A Dangerous Method,” Cronenberg delivers. The movie is fascinating, sort of like Cronenberg's kinkier version of a Merchant-Ivory film.
The movie is framed as Carl Jung’s story, and Fassbender, courtly and polite, hidden behind a clockmaker’s mustache, makes the bourgeois but searching Jung a paradoxical explorer. He’s devoted to his wealthy wife, yet Knightley’s Sabina, who becomes his patient and lover, represents more than temptation. She’s his chance to break on through to the other side -- to the secret dark truth of pain, masochism, and sex as creative destruction. Jung starts out as Freud’s disciple, but when Jung begins to advocate for the irrational, for the power of coincidence, he’s really arguing for a different kind of psychoanalysis. It was a stroke of inspiration to cast the virile, rock-solid Viggo Mortensen as the godfather of neurosis. He plays Freud as a highly charismatic control freak.
Keira Knightley’s performance, with its gargantuan mood swings from jaw-gnashing psychosis to femme-fatale hunger, is audacious and, to me, convincing. The movie’s real, tragic love story, however, is the increasingly fractured bond between Freud and Jung. The two get locked in a war that’s really a tango of egos and ideals. At times, “A Dangerous Method” is a little staid, yet it tells a gripping tale. It’s one of the best films of the season, and Cronenberg’s best movie in years.