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A Dangerous Method

by

Jeff Nelson

Those who are interested in the story or psychology itself will find this worth seeing at least once.

A Dangerous Method
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The human mind is so intricate and mysterious, which is why there are so many books and movies that revolve around it. Psychologists from many years ago up until now still have many questions and different theories continue to be developed. Surprisingly, David Cronenberg has decided to pick up the torch and attempt to tell a story that abandons his usual violent form of filmmaking and create something more philosophical. I wanted to approach the film A Dangerous Method will as little knowledge as possible. I felt as though this is the type of movie where it's much stronger when the viewer is taken by surprise about many of the plot details often given away rather quickly in the trailers and clips. With a powerhouse of a cast, is A Dangerous Method successfully able to convince the audience of its insight?

Sigmund Freud's relationship with fellow psychology luminary, Carl Jung, is tested when Sabina Spielrein, one of the first female psychoanalysts, enters their lives. I have always found the detailed theories of psychologists such as Freud to be extraordinarily intriguing. A Dangerous Method certainly brings some complicated themes that are found in such theories. A couple of the characters have a similar amount of depth to them. By that, I'm speaking about Carl Jung and Sabina Spielrein. For some reason, I found Sigmund Freud to be extremely thin here. I found him to be much less interesting than either Jung or Spielrein. His character is very straight forward and there isn't very much behind that. From what's shown on the screen, only the tip of the iceberg is displayed from both Jung and Spielrein. There's a lot more to both roles that we aren't seeing here, which can be interesting at times. It allows the audience to have abstract images of how these individuals interacted. The testing of the female patient quickly turns into something more than a doctor and patient relationship. I would have liked to see that role for a longer period of the movie. I found the tests that were being conducted to be very interesting. As expected, this is a dialogue-driven feature. A Dangerous Method transforms from a movie about psychologists and their studies to the filmmakers giving us theories regarding these characters, his or her conditions, and his or her errors. Once the film focuses more on that, I started to lose a bit of interest. From there on out, a lot of the picture felt a bit disconnected. Those interested by psychology are sure to enjoy the first portion of A Dangerous Method, although it soon turns into something a bit flat.

That powerhouse of a cast that I mentioned puts on one hell of a show. The female patient, Sabina Spielrein, is played by Keira Knightley. Her performance is extremely unsettling and unnerving. A Dangerous Method truly displays her range of talent. This is a very impressive performance that should have received much more attention than it did around award season. Michael Fassbender is Carl Jung. I've been a fan of Fassbender's for years. However, this is a very different performance for him. Despite that, he does a marvelous job at being a believable Carl Jung. Even Vincent Cassel has a small role as Otto Gross. As always, he's able to be convincing as ever. Viggo Mortensen is Sigmund Freud. He's a fantastic actor, as he has shown on numerous occasions, I don't feel that he pulled off Sigmund Freud. I'm not sure if it was the dialogue he was given or if he simply was miscast, but it simply didn't feel natural. Not to say that he did a bad job, but the casting choice didn't work for me. Ultimately, the cast is superb at bringing A Dangerous Method to life, with the exception of one role.

Those expecting something bold won't find that here. A Dangerous Method is subtle filmmaking. The first act of the feature works very well, but falls apart a bit as the running time goes on. David Cronenberg definitely took a step out of his comfort zone and did a decent job. The movie comes with its flaws, but is a solid effort. The psychological aspects of the motion picture are engrossing, to say the least. I just wish that we could have seen more of that and less of some of the repetitive conversations taking place between some of the characters. The acting is great and feels convincing. The costumes and set designs are marvelous, as well. I had to let this one sit for a little while in order for me to form an official opinion. I wasn't sure what to really think after it ended. A Dangerous Method is good, not great. Those who are interested in the story or psychology itself will find this worth seeing at least once.

My Rating = Three and One Half Stars

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