Starring Viggo Mortensen as renowned psychologist Sigmund Freud and Michael Fassbender as Freud’s prodigy Carl Jeung, A Dangerous Method draws from the real-life events of both psychologists during the World War I era. Keira Knightley plays Sabina Spielrein, a troubled woman who comes between the doctors.
The synopsis Describes A Dangerous Method as a dark tale of sexual and intellectual discovery. However, it’s lacking the depth required to make it truly sexual, romantic or worth intellectual discussion.
This film does very little to truly show the motivation and reasoning for the renowned psychologists’ theories and methods. So unfortunately, the audience never really connects with either of the characters. Slowly, but surely, the relationship between the two mean breaks down, and at the same time, my patience began wearing thin with both characters.
A Dangerous Method had potential with such rich characters and subject matter, but director David Cronenberg makes a mess of the whole thing. There are no peaks nor valleys so the film drags on and ends up feeling much longer than the 99 minutes it lasts.
If you were to hook this film up to an EKG machine, it would instantly flatline. The pacing is non-existent and the flash forwards feel rushed and no backstory is given for the subsequent years that have passed. I have a feeling, the film would have benefits from moving back and forth in time rather than in a linear fashion.
The acting isn’t terrible, but it seems as if everyone involved was bored by the subject matter and more worried about pronouncing the big psychology words rather than giving the lines any depth. Keira Knightly starts out engrossing, but quickly devolves into an annoying, self-pitying, desperate character.
Viggo Mortensen never gets down to the nitty gritty in his portrayal of Freud. And the constant talking out of the side of his mouth while smoking on a cigar reminded me of Groucho Marx, not Freud. His character is also treated as an afterthought throughout the film as it’s never fully developed.
Michael Fassbender is the best part of this film, but his depiction of Jeung ends up feeling flat as he character devolves rather than evolves.
I guess that’s my biggest beef with this film. The characters devolve and fail to maintain their humanity. Everything feels overdramatized including the sex scenes, the psychologists’ feud, the romance, the family life. None of it feels authentic.
I will say that the cinematography is above average. Other than that, this is a very flat movie that never fully explores any of the psychological issues it brings up. It’s almost as if the film has undergone a lobotomy.