I’m not sure what Keira Knightley thought she was doing in this pic, but if that’s method acting, that’s where the danger lies.
This period piece, written by Christopher Hampton (Atonement, The Quiet American), directed by David Cronenberg is about psychologist Carl Jung’s (Michael Fassbender) affair with his patient Sabina Spielrein – a Russian hysteric portrayed rather manically by miss Knightley. Or is it actually about the relationship between Jung and his mentor Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen)? Or is it really a historic account of the early days of clinical psychology?
The story centers on Jung’s treatment of Spielrein through “talk therapy” the titular “Dangerous Method”. This leads him to a closer relationship with Freud. But it all goes sour as Jung oversteps his professional boundaries at great cost to himself, Freud and Spielrein. Or at least, we are told that it is at great cost.
I, as viewer never felt that very much in particular was at stake. And that is a grave accusation to make against any story.
As I left the cinema I felt quite perplexed about what I had just seen. Yes, the sets were well lit, costumes up to scratch and the camera work was professionally done. But never at any time throughout the picture did I feel involved or more than slightly interested in what I was watching. The intellectual discourses felt staged and off kilter, the acting was – the god awful Knightley aside – okay, but what the film sorely lacked was a central drive or direction. It was more or less a series of events and people talking. There were some laughs, but I was never sure whether they were meant to be.
One pet peeve, for mr. Cronenberg: when doing the accent thing, either have all the actors stick to their respective dialects or none. Who can explain why miss Knightley does her utmost to cling onto an unconvincing Russian accent, Mortensen to a more appealing German lilt, yet Fassbender – portraying a early 20th century Swiss gentleman- gets away with BBC standard English? Perplexing.
All in all, I would advise any and all to skip this one, unless that is you have a particular fetish for watching anorexic women being spanked and pulling monkey faces. I’ll leave it at that.