Thrilling, but Not for Everyone

By Lloyd, Christopher | Sarasota Herald Tribune, January 26, 2012 | Go to article overview

Thrilling, but Not for Everyone


Lloyd, Christopher, Sarasota Herald Tribune


I greatly enjoyed "A Dangerous Method," though I recognize it's not for everyone. It's a fictionalized version of the relationship between three pivotal figures in the development of psychoanalysis: Sigmund Freud, his protege Carl Jung and Sabina Spielrein, a patient of Jung's who became his lover and then a pioneering psychologist in her own right.The movie is a mixture of esoteric discussions on the nature of the human mind and depictions of tortured sexuality. One minute, the characters are debating the way their budding discipline is being ostracized by the greater scientific community; the next, they're engaging in kinky sex -- one getting whipped while she watches herself in the mirror, etc.I found the juxtaposition of intellectual and carnal impulses delightful, but then I'm a very thin slice of the movie-going demographic -- a psychology major my first two years in college, before switching to film and journalism. "A Dangerous Method" is based on the play "The Talking Cure" by Christopher Hampton (who also wrote the screenplay).For me, it was like watching dry history from my old textbooks brought to vivid, neurotic life. A terrific trio of actors illuminate the (supposed) private lives of these stuffy figures, their collaborations and conflicts.Others, though, may simply dismiss it as high-brow erotica with a brainy bent.The film is directed by David Cronenberg, and if ever there were a filmmaker made to delve into the psycho-sexual labyrinths of Freud & Co., it's him. Cronenberg ("Dead Ringers") has had a career flitting between mainstream and art films, straight- out horror and deeply disquieting dramas. His movies ("Videodrome") have always had a healthy dose of id-driven fear and loathing slithering under their slick surface.Michael Fassbender plays Jung, who in 1904 was a 29-year-old doctor practicing the still- revolutionary "psychanalysis" invented by Freud. He is assigned as a patient Sabina, a 19-year-old Russian Jew who's had thoughts of becoming a psychologist herself, but is currently suffering from crippling mental instability. …

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