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POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Viggo Mortensen
Michael Fassbender
Vincent Cassel
Keira Knightley.
Directors
David Cronenberg.
Screenwriters
Christopher Hampton.
Running Time
100 minutes

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A Dangerous Method
Freudian blip


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Plot
In early-20th-century Switzerland, Carl Jung (Fassbender), disciple of father of psychotherapy Sigmund Freud (Mortensen), begins to treat a seriously disturbed young woman (Knightley). But, as their relationship becomes dangerously intimate, Jung begins to wonder whether Freud's theories aren't fatally flawed.


Review
A Dangerous Method
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Well, they do call it the talking cure, so Cronenberg fans on the hunt for exploding heads and insect/human hybrids, return to your DVD collections. Instead, A Dangerous Method delivers quite a lot of, well, chat. In theory, though, this should be a fascinating conversation as two Titans of early psychoanalysis wrestle to establish what the dominant theory will be: is it all about sex, as Freud famously postulated, or, as his disciple and soon-to-be-rival Carl Jung suspects, is there more to it than that?

Of course, with the exception of eXistenZ, Cronenberg has been slowly moving away from his early body-horror roots for nearly two decades now, and his last two films, A History Of Violence and Eastern Promises, were as accessible to multiplex audiences as anything he has made. A Dangerous Method continues this drift to the respectable: based on a play by Christopher Hampton it’s a precisely made, somewhat buttoned-up account of the men’s struggle for conceptual supremacy — it should be a ferociously interesting scrap, but the screenplay doesn’t put the two together often enough, and the promised intellectual fireworks never arrive.

The first and most serious challenge it throws us is Keira Knightley’s alarmingly physical performance as Sabina Spielrein, Jung’s patient and lover. We first see her restrained in a carriage galloping towards the booby hatch: writhing, grunting, gurning and sticking her chin out at an alarming angle: it’s a thoroughly disquieting sight, and one from which, for some audiences, it will be difficult to recover. (Cronenberg insists that the symptoms of her psychosis are accurately presented, as is a key element of Jung’s cure: fulfilling her desire for spanking sessions, which he provides with grim thoroughness.) It’s not helped by the fact that even when cured, Spielrein is an austere, somewhat unsympathetic character. Viggo Mortensen might be an unusual choice for Sigmund Freud, but he’s surprisingly convincing, though hardly in it enough to make much of an impact. The bulk of the heavy lifting, then, falls to the ubiquitous Michael Fassbender, who plays Jung as a moderately tortured soul, desperate to avoid a decisive break with his mentor but convinced the old guy’s got nookie on the brain. His own theorising, involving the importance of coincidence and the spiritual realm, horrify the ultra-rationalist Freud and form the basis for their split. It’s all very intelligent and moderately informative — but just ever so slightly dull.


Verdict
Despite a top-notch cast performing well, and bravely in the case of Knightley, this is an austere, somewhat repressed movie. It never really gets under the skin in the way Cronenberg does at his best.


Reviewed by William Thomas

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for A Dangerous Method
Empire Star Rating

WORTH SEEING.....

Not exactly typical Cronenberg fare – but engrossing nevertheless. Don’t go into this expecting another History of Violence or Videodrome. For the most part, the story concerns the friendship between two men who have a little bit of a falling out and it’s all very polite and civilised. The period details are suitably stiff and underplayed and the verbal sparring between Freud and Jung has a convincing air of professionalism and respectful candour. But surprisingly, it’s m... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ROTGUT at 18:37, 06 September 2012 | Report This Post


A Cronenberg Masterpiece -

I cannot understand the hostility this quite simply wonderful Cronenberg film has got - Easily in my top 10 of 2011 - ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bobbyperu at 02:55, 31 July 2012 | Report This Post


Keira Shiteley

Take the ingredients.... Cronenberg, Fassbender, Mortenson, and it's a recipe to be savoured.. But then shove in Knightley, with possibly the worst ever acting performance since Drogba in the semi-final, and you have a recipe that not only leaves a bad taste in the mouth, but makes you want to gouge your own eyes out with a rusty spoon. She is truly awful and I vow to never watch anything with her in again. (Unless it's a girl on girl leaked sex tape.) ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by GunnerGeezer at 08:42, 30 April 2012 | Report This Post


A Dangerous Method Review

This film has breathtaking performances from Fassbender, Knightley and Mortensen; as well as pleasant visuals and an intricate narrative. The film did, however, have questionable areas and a story which became difficult to follow in the scenes of deep psycological debates. However I recommend this film simply on the basis of the incredible actors and superb soundtrack. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by DaleLawson at 14:30, 11 March 2012 | Report This Post


Lacks The Depth That It Aspires To

A somewhat unconventional story choice for David Cronenberg, A Dangerous Method tries its best to create the vivid and grotesque emotions it's director is so accomplished in achieving, but ultimately comes up rather short, and, dare I say it, a little bland. It's not the fault of the cast either, who all put in stellar performances in their respective roles. Mortensen is most definitely the standout, however, with his portrayal of the illusive genius Sigmund Freud very much playing to his streng... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 04:10, 27 February 2012 | Report This Post


The exorcism of Keira Knightley

Is what this film should have been called! She stole every scene she was in but only because the super skinny 'starlet' writhed and knotted about making the most ridiculous faces leaving everyone in pain of her casting!! A star for each of the male leads, Vigo mortenson was nearly unrecognisable as Freud, confusingly ageing, and fassbender was true to form as Carl Jung, really embodying his inner decision demons! Fab 'cameo' by Vincent cassel, but even he couldn't save this utterly long winded ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lolita37 at 01:00, 26 February 2012 | Report This Post


Liked it

Solid effort, expected a bit more "danger" but it was fine. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by sephiroth7 at 17:49, 20 February 2012 | Report This Post


Waste of my time

This really wasn't in any way a good film for me. I spent most of my time looking around at the other OAPs watching the film. Even the flash of Keira's flesh, was not enough to warant more than 1 star for this film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by rickybeed at 17:40, 20 February 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Yawn

Hadn't realised I hadn't written in here. I loved the film, and it was in my top 3 of last years LFF. Knightley's performance, which I admit, is a love/hate one, won me over from the first scene, which in turn left me captivated for the duration. Vincent Cassel's "episode" within the film is fantastic too. ... More

Posted by adambatman82 at 11:37, 18 February 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Yawn

An awful film. Might write more tomorrow. ... More

Posted by Rgirvan44 at 01:38, 18 February 2012 | Report This Post


Yawn

My god, what a boring film. Unintentionally, one of the funniest things ever, it gave my the giggles. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tysmuse at 19:27, 12 February 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Great review

L: . For your information, here's a list of other great Austrians (not Germans, not Swiss, not anything else): Mozart, Klimt, Kokoschka, von Horvath, Ferdinand Porsche, more film related: Billy Wilder, Christoph Waltz, Michael Haneke, Otto Preminger, Maximillian Schell and our very own A-nuld. Keep up the good work ou're setting yourself up for the inevitable here pal ;) ... More

Posted by sephiroth7 at 23:52, 09 February 2012 | Report This Post


Great review

Great review, film is ok, great magazine, Empire your the best yada yada yada... But PLEASE! stop referring to Freud as swiss, when he was AUSTRIAN (as you do in the description to the Cronenberg-interview)! It just hurts my patriotic soul. For your information, here's a list of other great Austrians (not Germans, not Swiss, not anything else): Mozart, Klimt, Kokoschka, von Horvath, Ferdinand Porsche, more film related: Billy Wilder, Christoph Waltz, Michael Haneke, Otto Preminger, Maximilli... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Miikesmama at 19:11, 08 February 2012 | Report This Post


Great review

Great review, film is ok, great magazine, Empire your the best yada yada yada... But PLEASE! stop referring to Freud as swiss, when he was AUSTRIAN (as you do in the description to the Cronenberg-interview)! It just hurts my patriotic soul. For your information, here's a list of other great Austrians (not Germans, not Swiss, not anything else): Mozart, Klimt, Kokoschka, von Horvath, Ferdinand Porsche, more film related: Billy Wilder, Christoph Waltz, Michael Haneke, Otto Preminger, Maximilli... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Miikesmama at 18:47, 08 February 2012 | Report This Post


Well...

Not so good. Great subject though. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bereski at 14:07, 06 February 2012 | Report This Post


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