Film Review: A Dangerous Method

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Sex and Death

Freud comes across rather well; a man who knows enough about sexual impulses to repress them as work demands. In contrast, Cronenberg would have us believe Jung was a capricious loon, bewitched by the neurotic clusterfuckette that is Knightley’s Spielrein, and obsessed with the supernatural – a tendency that the movie sadly endorses, giving undue prominence to Jung’s super-sense, and a dream in which he symbolically (and improbably) predicts the Great War.

Given the film’s verbosity and sedentary staging, you might think A Dangerous Method would have made a better play. As it is, it’s curiously uncinematic; there’s a conspicuous lack of visual imagination on display, astonishing given Cronenberg’s pedigree, and a wasted opportunity in light of the subject matter. In thinking about how the film’s many dense concepts might have been translated, the free association of images, acute focalisation and provocative editing all spring to mind. Instead you’re invited to sit in the corner of the room and listen to people trade abstractions.

A sense of who Jung and Freud were, beyond their clinical personas, might have helped; so to the impression that something was at stake; that Jung’s relationship with Spielrein mattered a frig. Cronenberg relies on the details of Spielrein’s case to throw up enough intellectual meat to feed our interest, but as that’s all you get, you may as well skip the movie and read the case notes instead.

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Directed by: David Cronenberg

Country: UK/Ger/Canada/Switzerland

Year: 2011

Running Time: 99 mins

Certificate: 15 for spanking and incurable monologues.

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