Monday, July 02, 2012

A Dangerous Method

In the early years of twentieth century, a young woman was admitted to a Swiss hospital suffering from a severe personality disorder. She was placed in the care of Doctor Carl Jung who began her treatment by employing the ‘talking cure’ outlined by Professor Sigmund Freud some years earlier in an attempt to find the root cause of her illness. Thus was the theoretical discipline of psychoanalysis put into clinical practice for the first time.

This film follows the case of the treatment of Sabina Spielrein and Jung’s relationship with her and his mentor Freud over a ten year period. Keira Knightly captures the symptoms of Spielrein’s illness and some early scenes are quite distressing. In contrast, Michael Fassbinder plays Jung as a somewhat repressed individual unsure of the boundaries of his role as an analyst and wary of his relationship with Freud, played as an avuncular father figure by Mortensen who is rarely seen without an appropriately phallic cigar in his mouth.

This is an interesting, although slightly dry and documentary like, look at the controversial roots of psychoanalysis and touches on the conflict between Freud and Jung over issues of metaphysics and sexuality, although such drama as there is rather muted. At one point a ‘violent disagreement’ is portrayed as an exchange of letters with the last one being crumpled into a ball.

Worth watching, but I suspect that the original stage play may have been more compelling.

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