A Dangerous Method

Directed By: David Cronenberg

Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley, and Vincent Cassel

Michael Fassbender has a bit of a penchant for making movies about sex.  This year alone he's made Shame and A Dangerous Method.  While Shame portrays a sex addict at his worst, A Dangerous Method deals with sex in a more intellectual manner.  David Cronenberg's latest film tackles the importance of sex with regard to psychology and whether it should have been the centerpiece of psychoanalysis in the early twentieth century.  This sort heavy academic conversation may merit a drink or two.

Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) is a young psychiatrist looking to make his mark in the scientific community.  He decides to use an experimental treatment developed by Sigmund Freud ( Viggo Mortensen) on his craziest patient Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) and helps her to overcome her mental troubles.  Freud's treatment centers around the notion that sexual instincts have the greatest impact on human behavior and that psychoanalysts should understand their patients' desires of the flesh when treating them.  Though he has successfully used Freud's methods, Jung adamantly disagrees with his mentor and believes that sex is not the only determinant of human behavior. This clash of ideas quickly transforms Jung's relationship with Freud into a very turbulent one.  Meanwhile, Jung gives into his desires and perhaps makes a big mistake with his former Russian patient Sabina Spielrein.

Michael Fassbender's talent for making movies with heavy sexual overtones is an asset in a film where the physical thrills of sex are far less important than the ideas about sex and whether our desires should be used to better understand one another in the context of psychoanalysis.  Along with his co-star Keira Knightley, Fassbender treats the sexual themes of the film with a certain grace and dignity despite the fact that his character Jung "punishes" Spielrein many times throughout the movie.

Although there's quite a bit of S&M in the film that complicates Jung's destructive doctor-patient relationship with Spielrein, the most important parts of the movie are the conversations between Jung and Freud.  At its core, A Dangerous Method revolves around the war between two intellectuals about the future of psychoanalysis and whether to limit the scope by which psychiatrists evaluate their patients.  Powered by masterful performances from Mortensen, Fassbender, and particularly Knightley, director David Cronenberg takes this topic and makes a genuinely compelling film.  A Dangerous Method could have easily drowned itself in boring academic conversations.  Instead, it thrives on them.

In their third consecutive collaboration, Viggo Mortensen and David Cronenberg strike cinematic gold once again.  Despite the fact that the movie is really one giant conversation, A Dangerous Method gets a 0.03% rating.  If you're interested in a psych movie, check this flick out and have some wine coolers along with it.