David Cronenberg's 'A Dangerous Method' is a talky period piece about Freud and Jung refining their psychoanalytical approaches, with a romantic interest played by Keira Knightley thrown in.
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The friendship and ensuing rift between Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and his mentor Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) is the heart of David Cronenberg’s “A Dangerous Method,” a surprisingly tame and talky period piece from a director best known for his high-art gruesomeness (“The Fly,” “Dead Ringers”). The talkiness derives from screenwriter Christopher Hampton’s play “The Talking Cure,” which in turn is based on John Kerr’s 1994 non-fiction book “A Most Dangerous Method: The Story of Freud, Jung and Sabina Spielrein.”
Spielrein, played by Keira Knightley, was a Russian-Jewish woman originally under the care of Jung in 1904 at the Burgholzi hospital outside Zurich. Using Freud’s methods, he was able to eliminate her seizures and hysteria. Though married, he also entered into an affair with her. Spurned by him, she became a patient of Freud’s, eventually becoming a prominent psychoanalyst in her own right. There’s a lesson to be learned here somewhere, if you can find it.