A Dangerous Method: Psychology 101

By Beckii CMovies - 13 March 2012 4:53 PM | Updated 21 March 2012

A Dangerous Method: Psychology 101

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Rating:3 stars out of 5

The Stars: Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender, Sarah Gadon, Vincent Cassel.

The Story: Russian student and frothing madwoman, Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) is brought to a young Dr. Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) at an institute for observation.

Beneath her disturbed demeanour, Jung discovers an unusually bright mind and decides to use this young woman as a guinea pig in his trial run of “The Talking Method” (what we've now come to know as someone lying on a couch expositioning their woes while shrink nearby listens intently a.k.a modern day psychology) - a theory first developed by another scientist, Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen).

Encouraged by his wealthy wife, Emma (Sarah Gadon), the two start an open dialogue which eventually leads to a love-hate mentorship. Meanwhile, Dr. Jung grows unexpectedly close to his once-subject-turned-student, Sabina and the pair begin a clandestine relationship. 

The Buzz: Canadian director David Cronenberg, best remembered for his haunting psychological thrillers like “Crash” and “eXistenZ”, initially cast Christopher Waltz in the role of Freud, who eventually dropped out to star in “Water for Elephants”. The film’s script was also adapted from playwright Christopher Hampton’s stage piece “The Talking Cure”, which itself was derived from John Kerr’s book “A Most Dangerous Method”.

inSing.com thinks: It's certainly no easy feat creating a film based on the birth of the psychoanalysis movement.

That said, with Cronenberg, king of the fascinatingly macabre, at the helm, the bar is unwittingly raised ever so higher.

And the guy does know how to lay the groundwork for an interesting premise. But stripped of all that Freud/Jung history, you basically have a girl-bangs-teacher story laced with some “Desperate Housewives” intrigue and occasional droll exchanges (this is the 19 hundreds after all); essentially nothing too original or creative.

Which is a shame because there is some fine acting in “A Dangerous Method”. A usually unspectacular Kiera Knightly displays some solid chops, with her maddeningly perfect facial contortions and pretty impressive crazy-girl monologue at the start of the film.

And for once we (almost) get to see past Michael Fassbender's chiseled good looks as he plays up the contained frustrations of a very straight-laced character.

Though it's really a barely recognizable Viggo Mortensen who truly shines. A role that also earned him a well-deserved Oscar nod for Best Supporting Actor at the recent Oscars.

He's simply a brilliant jackass; an opinionated, arrogant jerk who spews insults while cooly puffing on his expensive cigars.

A Dangerous Method” is a rather watchable piece of textbook art, despite having a narrative bordering on generic.

It's a story that we've seen before (with more visages of the English countryside and wholesome declarations of love), elevated by a competent cast. 

A film that will perhaps attract a very passionate niche audience - half of them being Fassbender fans.