A Dangerous Method

January 22, 2012 No Comments

History….Herstory……History…….David Cronenberg’s new film “A Dangerous Method” is a stylized, highly verbal account of the fascinating inter-relationships of Freud, Jung and Sabina Speilrein, whose paths crossed in the earliest years of psychoanalysis.  The focus of Cronenberg’s film is the rivalrous relationship that evolved between Freud (Vigo Mortenson…who knew Freud was such a hottie?) and Jung (Michael Fassbinder, recently of Shame) as they developed the “talking cure.”  Jung’s decision to apply this technique to the young, hysterically psychotic Sabina Spielrein set a course of events in motion that eventually led to Jung’ sexual relationship with his young patient, her decision to become a psychoanalyst and the irreparable schism between Freud and Jung.  Soap opera-worthy drama that somehow remains quite tepid throughout the film.  The screenplay was adapted from a stage play which may explain the often stilted, stagy dialogue.  Still, conversations about psychoanalysis is hardly an everyday occurrence and psychotherapists will enjoy the metapsychological banter.  I am not as certain that those spectators less familiar with the method will understand its “danger.”  The treatment of Sabina Spielrein (a very thin Keira Knightly) is also interesting.  Although Cronenberg does provide some access into Spielrein’s theoretical perspectives (the interconnectedness between sexuality and the death instinct, for example), there are large gaps–primarily in Cronenberg’s interest–which maintain her in her previous “footnote” status (where she was for decades in mainstream psychoanalytic thought).  Other films about “her- story” ( a documentary entitled ‘My Name Was Sabina Speilrein” and Faenza’s “Soul Keeper”) reveal more detail about this pioneer who was killed by the Nazis  and the direction of her life post-Jung.  It is not a question of right or wrong, or “accuracy,” but an interesting reminder (especially to us analysts and cinephiles) that the story is shaped by the position of the camera….This is a must see movie for that reason alone……Jolyn Wagner



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