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Review: Brave Ideas (A Dangerous Method)

With any innovative idea there are vultures surrounding them, these vultures are both advocates and detractors just waiting to pick apart. Success has many fathers, but failure has just one. The "talking cure" that Dr. Freud (Viggo Mortensen) has implemented could either bring psychoanalysis to the mainstream or destroy the reputations of all doctors willing to treat their patients with it.

Dr. Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender, in yet another solid performance) likes to fancy himself a practitioner of the talking cure, but a new patient in the form of Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) could reveal him to be a student.

Sabina's psychosis is not a common one: she is excited by humiliation. Underneath all of this dilapidating fear, Jung sees a kindred spirit, a woman with insights of her own. He can find a way to cure her of this "disease", but in doing so he must tread lightly. His resolve is being corrupted by Otto Gross (Vincent Cassel), a man who represses nothing. Sabina has a proposal and Jung may halt the psychoanalytic movement before it even begins.

With Jung's sessions, Sabina blossoms into a analytical mind of her own, and as a lover for Jung. This presents complications when Jung finally meets Freud.

Despite Freud's gossamer-like touch regarding sexuality, he would better serve other interests if he shifted his focus elsewhere, Jung concludes. The cigar-chomping doctor seemingly does not care enough about a patient's problems enough to obtain any actualized solutions. Jung finds this unacceptable. Sexuality does not define any one person's actions consistently, he refuses to believe it. The growing feud between these therapists develops into a life-long one.

David Cronenberg's film relies on its actors to keep the audiences' attention onscreen as A Dangerous Method does not lend itself to cinematography. A majority of the film takes place behind a desk, in armchairs, and at the dinner table. Fortunately, Knightley, Fassbender and Mortensen all give it their all.

Mortensen takes the cigar and ability to throw battery acid onto a fresh-paint veneer like only Freud could. Watching the veteran pick apart the confidence of his peers must be what got Viggo the part. Michael Fassbender—so shortly after Shame—comes to prim and proper so naturally that even the hairs on his mustache stand at attention. Watching him loosen his morality as if it were a tie is a vicarious thrill. His scenes with Knightley revel in all of the kink that fans said that Cronenberg no longer had in him.

What we indulge in may bring us to the brink and A Dangerous Method proposes that in order to live, we may have to give it all up.


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