Top critical review
Not one for Cronenberg fans
on May 7, 2018
Some Cronenberg movies are rather over the top, but you'd never call them dull or uninteresting. Until this. Cronenberg fans be warned — this is a project more suited to the skills of James Ivory. If you imagine the result had Ivory directed "The Fly" or "Eastern Promises" you'll get the picture. For the first few minutes as a screaming, wild-eyed Knightley with distorted facial features is dragged into a Victorian-era asylum it's pure Cronenberg. From then on it's all downhill. In the extras Cronenberg refers to Jung and Freud as "charismatic" and "passionate". Maybe they were, but it doesn't show on screen where Fassbender and Mortensen cannot breathe life into them. The affair between Jung and Spielrein, which occupies much of the film, causes him so much more guilt than passion or pleasure you wonder why he bothered. Was Jung really such a jerk? Was the middle-aged Freud really so detached and supercilious? The one spot of humor is provided by Victor Cassel as Otto Gross who basically psychoanalyses his analyst. At times this seems like a documentary as, after the story of the affair, we skip months and years with the intervening events described only in conversation which often sounds as though it is being read. It's unengaging and only offers a very basic summary of the doctors' conflicting theories. Oh yes, the "dangerous method" of the title refers to the notion of treating patients by having them talk. And do they ever!
Not all is lost: the exteriors, filmed in Vienna, are pretty; the costumes and make-up are first rate; and the design of the credits is pleasing.