A Dangerous Method
Winter 2012 Features series
Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 4:00pm
Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 7:00pm
Directed by David Cronenberg
Screenplay by Christopher Hampton
Based on the book by John Kerr
Starring Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley, and Viggo Mortensen
Rated NR ·
United Kingdom / Germany / Canada / Switzerland
A Dangerous Method
This historical drama is a brooding tale of dark desire and the dread that lurks behind genius, experienced by intellectual misfits in conventional society. Veteran Canadian director David Cronenberg (Eastern Promises, A History of Violence) brings these recognizable obsessions to a new genre: the historical period piece. A Dangerous Method is an extremely controlled film tackling a period of time in history when explanations about the human psyche were questioned in drastically new ways. Theories of such importance are still discussed, debated, celebrated and refuted to this date.
Set in Vienna on the eve of the First World War, the film explores the complex relationship between novice psychiatrist Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender, Jane Eyre, Inglourious Basterds) and his mentor Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen, The Road, Eastern Promises). Studying under the already well established Freud, Jung practices his teacher’s methods while developing his own theories based on the clinical study of psychologically disturbed patients. When a sick young Russian woman arrives at the clinic, both Jung and Freud are fascinated by her case and spellbound by her vulnerable yet dangerous sexuality.
The beautiful and profoundly disturbed Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley, Atonement, Pride & Prejudice) strikes an untapped well of unconscious emotions within Jung as he begins to probe her dark past. When his primal attraction to Sabina deepens and their interaction intensifies, Jung begins to question the restrictions of Freud’s methodology and develops his own approach to human behaviour and treatment.
Strong supporting turns from Vincent Cassel (Black Swan, Eastern Promises) as radical psychoanalyst Otto Gross – who encourages his patients to liberate rather than repress their base instincts – and Canadian newcomer Sarah Gadon as Jung’s morally upright wife complete the web of troubled relationships that surround Sabina’s treatment. Sharp-witted dialogue and a pristine turn-of-the-century Vienna setting add a refined tone to a film that explores the anything-but-civilized depths of human desire.
“A Dangerous Method moves forward with a calm that belies the revolutionary notions of personality construction being discussed — and demonstrated — in this rich story set on the eve of World War I. Intelligent conversation about the interplay of erotic and destructive urges takes place over cups of tea in fine bone china. Yet the movie is a radically modern story about sex. And in the relationship of Jung and Freud, it’s a tale of father-son struggle as old as myth.” – Lisa Schwarbaum, Entertainment Weekly