Did you notice there are just a handful of movies about psychology? Sure, we’ve got a lot of movies people who are studying psychology or already are psychologists should watch. But when it comes to movies about psychology, there’s only the German movie Experiment I can name off the top of my head. Compelling and thought-provoking, A Dangerous Method is a movie about psychology everyone can watch. These elusive and complex concepts are quite approachable when they’re framed right. And they were framed perfectly here, using actual events and characters to examine our psyche.
You won’t even notice that A Dangerous Method is the new Cronenberg movie. Most of us know him as the guy behind two eighties body horror classics Scanners and The Fly. All of his movies have these sinister undertones you can look at from a psychological point of view. Just take Crash, my favorite Cronenberg movie, and revel in its beauty and effortless complexity. He further examined how the mind works in the 2002 movie Spider starring Ralph Fiennes as a mentally challenged man. I wonder where do we go from here? Probably to find out more about the movie we’re talking about today.
A Dangerous Method is a movie following an unusual trio consisting of one Jung, founder of analytical psychology, one Freud, founder of psychoanalysis, and one Sabina Spielrein, a highly intelligent woman with an air of mystery around her. As you can notice, this is a character study, examining both the personal and professional relationships of two great intellectuals and a mysterious woman who appears to be their equal. Or did she actually blow their little theories right out of the water? To answer that question, you’ll have to see this great movie.
Carl Jung is a famous psychologist who just got a new patient. Her name is Sabina and she’s violent and incoherent but also smart and beautiful. She’s actually studying psychology, just like he did once upon a time. So, she seems like a perfect candidate for his new type of therapy. Jung thinks he can just talk to his patients and cure them that way. And to help him with this, he enlists the help of his good friend and father figure Sigmund Freud.
Now, this is a movie that’s actually based on a play. And that play is actually based on a non-fiction novel written by John Kerr. Considering all of this, I could not sense that confined vibe everyone is talking about. Probably because I was too focused on other elements of the movie. A Dangerous Method is a fucking symphony! Just take the scene where Jung is “testing” his wife with help from Sabina. It isn’t dumbed down or simplified to “appease” all viewers and yet it’s perfectly understandable. However, I do think that the dialogue could be better. I guess that’s down to the source material but still…
What could not have been better were the performances. All three of our leads were great and this is coming from someone who isn’t Keira’s biggest fan. I kept thinking how Rachel Weisz would’ve been much better in that role. Still, after this movie, I can say that Keira is a great actress and her vulnerable and committed performance here just proves it. With a short running time of just ninety minutes and a solid pace, A Dangerous Method is not some boring drama but a gripping tale of love, science, and life. Finally, if you’re looking for similar movies, I suggest you check out Hysteria.
Director: David Cronenberg
Writers: Christopher Hampton, John Kerr
Cast: Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender, Vincent Cassel, Sarah Gadon
Fun Facts: Keira Knightley originally rejected the movie because of its sexual nature, most of all the spanking scene. However, Cronenberg was able to convince her to stay on board pointing out other great aspects of the movie and her role.