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Review: A Dangerous Method

Cronenberg's dramatization of the rise of psychoanalysis
By PETER KEOUGH  |  December 20, 2011
3.5 3.5 Stars

Perhaps the three characters in David Cronenberg's handsome, eloquent dramatization of the birth and near demise of psychoanalysis represent the parts of the psyche that the movement would eventually hypothesize. Carl Jung, the beaming young hero of the aspiring science played with restrained passion by Michael Fassbender, is the ego. Sigmund Freud, the paterfamilias and founder played with sardonic fretfulness by Viggo Mortensen, is the superego. Which leaves Jung's patient, lover, and rival analyst Sabina Spielrein, played by Keira Knightley — in a painfully mannered performance (is she trying to bite her nose off with her lower jaw?) that somehow grows on you — as the troublesome id. But this schematic doesn't account for the film's ineffable moments of beauty and emotion, some drawing on Cronenberg's previous themes and images, and all partaking of the chaos of the human soul, which no analytical method can contain.

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