Thomas Clarke’s review:
In recent years David Cronenberg has shifted the films he produces more towards productions that can be fully accessible for larger audiences. Although the directors last two film outings ('A History of Violence' and 'Eastern Promises') were largely mature, they were still more mainstream than many of the earlier movies. With A Dangerous Method, Cronenberg has utilized his experience as a director, to deliver a film with a heavy plot in such a way that more audience types will find an interest.
'A Dangerous Method' is a film that has been adapted from the 2002 stage play 'The Talking Cure' and as such, shares the same plot as the production. This narrative is based on the working and social lives of three people who were alive during the end of the 19th Century, through to the beginning of the 20th. These three people are Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) a young woman who is administered to a psychiatric hospital due to many believing her to have mental issues associated with sexual desires. At this hospital she is put into the care of Swiss doctor Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender). Being a young psychiatrist, Jung is exploring the use of word association and dream interpretation in hope of understanding the clients thoughts. The work that this young doctor undertakes leads to him gaining recognition in his field. This recognition leads to a meeting with Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen), the leading psychiatrist who was the founder of psychoanalysis. When Sabina and Jung start a tabooed affair, the recognition of the young doctor is harshly affected. Through this affair however the two people start doubting the work of Freud and the narrative follows the conflicts that were shared. It is a heavy and slow paced drama, but being based on a real life situation means that the film is highly enlightening into the beginning of this type of science.
Man of the year Michael Fassbender once again showcases his raw natural talent as an actor delivering the lines that show the persons internal conflicts, the love of his wife and the desire for the young Russian. This allows audience members to have a character who deserves attention and as such is the catalyst of the films narrative. Cronenberg regular Viggo Mortensen is almost unrecognizable in the role of Freud, portraying a role that is far different from the action roles that have come before. His character is the complete opposite to that of Fassbender's, and therefore, the dynamic between the two is clear throughout. This film however should remain Knightley's entirely. Her turn as Sabina is so bold because very rarely does an actor step away from the usual roles that they perform. For this film, she has decided upon acting it bravely and performing the role in the correct way that the character deserved. That said it is a very mature performance, mostly noted in the spanking scenes, but Knightley's high quality performance proves her desire to branch away from the earlier roles that she has performed and gained acclaim for.
This film is a directors vision on a heavy subject matter that showcases the beginning of Psychoanalysis. It could be counted as slightly dull but also very insightful.