Saturday, January 28, 2012

Interesting...Very Interesting: Our Review of "A Dangerous Method" (2011)

Directed By: David Cronenberg

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley and Viggo Mortensen

Synopsis: In the early 1900s, psychiatrist Carl Jung (Fassbender) is faced with a challenging new patient, a young woman named Sabina Spielrein (Knightley). Being an admirer of the famed Sigmund Freud (Mortensen), Jung is able to cure Sabina using Freud's controversial new "talking cure" method. The results of Jung's treatment go on to bring the three into a complicated web that will span several years. 


Andrew: Hello readers! Sarah and I saw "A Dangerous Method" this afternoon and I must say, even though we've only written a few reviews to this point, this will probably be the hardest one we've done. This was not your typical movie, was it, Sarah?

Sarah: This film was interesting because it was based on a play and a book, so you get a blend of film types. There is a very tight focus on the main characters (there are five, and to be honest there are no other characters in the film), while at the same time the movies spans the width of about 12 years. This makes the film a little hard to follow in my opinion. I was so focused on the characters that it was hard to follow a timeline.

A: It’s definitely shot like a play. There are very few settings that mainly consist of Jung's or Freud's office, Sabina's apartment…..and not much else. It's also incredibly talky, that can't be denied. You will either be very interested in the psychoanalysis the characters delve into, or you'll be bored to tears. There's no way around it. Because the movie is so focused on the characters, it means the actors have to do a great job of capturing your attention. Do you think they did that?

S: Oh, the characters caught my attention, no questions asked; almost to the point of awkwardness. There were times when I felt like I shouldn't be watching because it would be such an intimate conversation. All the cast members did their homework on their characters. So where you bored to tears? Did the story interest you at all?

A: There were moments that were a touch boring, but overall I was pretty interested in Jung and Freud's conversations. The two of them clearly had differing opinions about the school of psychiatry. Freud famously believed all psychological problems could be traced to some underlying sexual source, while Jung thought Freud was too close-minded and believed there were other, untouched aspects of psychology. The scenes between the two of them talking about that were particularly fascinating to me, but they might not be to some others. I think that's also a tribute to Michael Fassbender and Viggo Mortensen's acting abilities, that just sitting and talking could keep me interested that much.

S: I would agree. I had a little bit of trouble keeping up with what they were talking about in their conversations. I wonder if that is because I am little gun-shy of psychology because I had such a rough time with that class in college. But anyway...I think the relationship between Jung and Spielrein needs to be touched on. They obviously develop a relationship that apparently is not unusual between psychiatry patients and doctors but it is interesting to note how they change during the relationship. They both seem to go back to their most basic instincts and revert to an unhealthy (by modern standards) state of mind. What do you think about it?

A: Well at the beginning of the movie, Spielrein is a complete mess. She's psychotic and clearly has an unhealthy connection between being punished/humiliated and arousal. When Jung finally cures her and they begin their relationship, it did amaze me how she would revert back to that psychosis, while Jung was finally giving in to his desires for her despite not believing in polygamy. 

And that actually brings me to the main thing I kept thinking as we left the theatre: the movie is really about Jung and how tortured he is by his love for Sabina and what he believes is the truth in psychiatry. You can see the pain in Fassbender's face with him being torn in the different directions of his relationship with Sabina, his relationship with Freud and with his marriage.

That said the best performance of the whole movie is Keira Knightly. Her performance as Sabina, particularly in the first third of the movie, is incredible. She's like a totally different person.

S: I agree with you. She stole the show and it is a shame she didn't get more accolades for the role. I know that you are having trouble with what the point of the movie was, so let me see if I can help a little. I think the point of the movie was to show that these men, whom the world holds in such high esteem for their contribution to medicine and life in general, really had base issues of their own. They are still considered to be such free thinkers of their time when in actuality, Freud and Jung were really trapped in their own minds. 

A: I really am having a hard time explaining how I really feel about this movie. So before we wrap it up, I just want to mention how I loved David Cronenberg's directing style and how distracted I was with the prosthetic nose on Viggo. I loved the times when two people were in the same shot (say Freud is in the forefront and Jung is in the background) but instead of one being in focus and the other out of focus, they were both in focus. It was unusual and to me it kept my attention switching between both actors, which I liked. And Viggo's nose just looked...fake. At times it worked, but I kept coming back to how the tip of his nose didn't move.

S: Very interesting about the focus shots. Wish I had noticed that! And the nose was bad, it just was. It was ONE prosthetic, just one. It should have been blended better, but oh well. 

OK, so what do you think overall? What is your rating for “A Dangerous Method?”

A: I did enjoy the movie, even if I kept wondering what the point of it was the entire time. But overall I'd have to say Netflix It.

S: Agreed, it’s not one that I would want to sit down and watch for pure entertainment but an interesting way to spend the afternoon.

(Out of Five)
Next Post: In the next few days, we may rent a movie that is in the Oscar race, with a review to follow. Otherwise keep checking Two Tickets For... for regular updates as we will begin posting on breaking movie news and giving our takes on it. As always, thank you for reading!


  1. What is the rating? Could it be shown in my high school psychology class? Did it show the final feud between Freud and Hung and the division that caused in the field of psychiatry?

  2. It does show the divide between the two of them and what finally causes them to go their separate ways. What's also interesting is Sabina is studying to become a psychiatrist as well when she gets cured, and so she also brings interesting points of psychiatry to the film.

    I would say you should rent it when it comes out and see for yourself, but I do think it would a good film to show in class. Though there is some nudity, it's not really explicit.

  3. Also, to answer your question for directly, it is rated R for sexual content and brief language. There's a couple scenes where Knightley is sort of topless and Jung is hitting her with a belt, but other than that it's perfectly fine for a senior class. (Also, if you think your students are too immature to handle talk about sex and stuff like that, then maybe avoid it, since...ya know...Freud and Jung specialized in that stuff, lol)