Brendan Kearney, never a man to shirk his responsibilities, hosted Robert Burns Centre Film Theatre
Film Club where he did a grand job of introducing A Dangerous Method (2011), not an easy film to summarise. He informed us it was about the turbulent relationship between the pioneering psychiatrists Carl Yung (Michael Fassbender) and Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) and an attractive but troubled young Russian woman Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) who drives a wedge between these two men and who indecently became one of the first female psychoanalysts. Set in Switzerland and Austria in the early part of the twentieth century this fact-based drama was based on Christopher Hamptons play The Talking Cure, which in turn had been based on John Kerr’s non-fictional book A Most Dangerous Method. Brendan explained that this was a departure from the horror film genre that director David Cronenberg was best known for. Although I would reason that it’s not too dissimilar from his other works in the fact that most of them, like this one, explore the depths of the human mind.
The movie starts in 1904 with a hysterical Spielrein being restrained in a speeding coach and horses on her way to a mental hospital just outside Zurich to be subjected to the ‘talking cure’ under the care of Carl Yung. During her treatment Yung falls under her spell awakening hidden desires. Influenced by Otto Gross (Vincent Cassel), another analyst who has been sent to Yung for treatment, the married Jung embarks on a sado-masochistic affair with Spielrein. It’s this affair that compromises Jung’s friendship with his eminent colleague Freud.
|Carl Yung and Sigmund Freud.|
This intellectually challenging award winning film has an exceptional period feel and so beautifully shoot you could almost smell the lake. With some first class acting and a touch of underlying humour its verbosity does not distract from your enjoyment of this fine film. I believe we have witnessed a cinematic landmark where the splendid Keira Knightley graduates from being a good British actress to being a great British actress. Nothing in this film is a coincidence!