A Dangerous Method

dir. David Cronenberg

TIFF Cinematheque - Retrospective

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The personal and professional relationship between Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) is put to the test by the arrival of a beautiful, troubled young patient (Keira Knightley), in Cronenberg's ambitious drama about the heroic age of psychoanalysis.

On the eve of World War I, a beautiful, troubled young woman named Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) arrives at the Zurich clinic of Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) for treatment. As Jung probes Spielrein's repressed sexual traumas and, despite his professional ethics (and marriage), begins an affair with her, he comes into conflict with his mentor Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) — and personal and professional loyalties become even more complex once Spielrein transforms from psychiatric patient to practitioner in her own right. Adapted by Christopher Hampton from John Kerr's book A Most Dangerous Method and his own play The Talking Cure, A Dangerous Method marks Cronenberg's most explicit engagement with the psychological and psychoanalytical themes that underlie so much of his work. Typical of his later period, however, Cronenberg refuses to allow these concepts to exist in a vacuum: the evolution of Jung and Spielrein's thinking is shown to be inextricably intertwined with the social relations — personal, professional, sexual, religious, class-based — that define the matrix of their existence.