This delightful historical narrative takes us to Europe in the early 20th century and into the personal lives of the forefathers of psychoanalysis. A Dangerous Method focuses on Carl Jung (played dutifully by Michael Fassbender), a young man at the time, whose professional life as a psychologist becomes complicated when he starts a love affair with a patient. His marriage, as well as his credibility as a scientist, grow unstable as he develops feelings for her.
A Dangerous Method begins with a case of hysteria—a Russian girl by the name of Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) must be restrained as she is carried from a horse-drawn carriage into a hospital in Zurich. She is to be treated by Carl Jung a preeminent scholar in psychology and a colleague of Sigmund Freud (played by Viggo Mortenson). Sabina is deeply disturbed. Her emotions run the gamut from serene and cool to a twisted, hollering loon. As later revealed, Sabina was abused as a child. When these repressed feelings finally begin escaping, Sabina becomes a dangerous and emotionally raw patient. Her case has been called “impossible,” which makes it so fascinating to Jung.
Jung observes Spielrein, whose sexually repressed memories, neuroticism, and intelligence pique his interest. He begins treating her with Freud’s methods, which center on studying all things sexual. Surprisingly, Spielrein makes tremendous progress and is eventually cured, but not before she capitalizes on Jung’s own vulnerabilities. Soon, they are in a full-flung relationship, which draws the attention of Jung’s much older and fatherly colleague, Sigmund Freud.
Upon hearing of the affair, Freud says that Jung shouldn’t get involved with patients romantically. It muddies the waters, he says. Yet, as brilliant as Jung is, he cannot help oblige become enamored in the young Russian’s beauty, and for years, their extramarital affair continues until her attachment sends her on an anonymous letter-writing spree to Jung’s wife. When news of the scandal is heard, Jung ends his relationship with Spielrein and quits his job in Zurich. The blackmailing continues, and Spielrein eventually finds herself in the help of Sigmeund Freud.
In all, it’s a rather chilly tale that just barely escapes being labeled a boring romance. While the three characters involved have a tremendous amount of character development, the overall storyline stretched too far and with too many variables. Not enough characters told the story, either, unfortunately. The script wasn’t great, but the acting was powerful—stunning performances all around from Knightley, Mortenson, and especially Fassbender.
A Dangerous Mind is currently playing at the Regency Rancho Niguel 8. If you’re in the mood of a cerebral, relaxed romance with some intellectual flare, then this movie is right for you. I give it three out of five Patches.