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Home Reviews Cinema reviews Review: A Dangerous Method
Review: A Dangerous Method Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford and Selina Pearson   
Friday, 10 February 2012 08:21
Viggo Mortensen, A Dangerous Method - review, London Film Festival
Director: David Cronenberg
Cast: Keira Knightley, Michael Fassbender, Viggo Mortensen
Certificate: 15

Sabina Speilrein (Knightley) is dragged into a Zurich mental hospital. She's hysterical. She looks like Keira Knightley. And her voice is really weird. How can she be cured? Carl Jung (Fassbender) decides to try out Sigmund Freud's (Mortensen) radical new talking therapy, psychoanalysis.  It may or may not involve spanking.

So begins David Cronenberg's adaptation of Christopher Hampton's play. It stars a bizarre collection of oddballs: Sabina actively seeks out punishment, deriving twisted pleasure out of it, while Jung gets her to help out in his practice. Then along comes sex addict Dr. Otto Gross (played brilliantly by Vincent Cassel), sent to Jung by Freud for treatment. The therapy has the opposite effect.

"You're telling me you've never slept with any of your patients?" gasps Cassell, incredulously. Soon, Jung's spanking Sabina for all he's worth while she's enrolled in the Zurich medical school, wanting to study psychiatry. She does very well.  

It's weirdly hilarious stuff - not intentionally so. Viggo Mortensen is gloriously deadpan as the witty, heavily-bearded Freud and Fassbender does well as the conflicted Jung, guilty for being unfaithful to his wealthy, fecund wife. But the bizarrest performance belongs to Knightley, whose fits and psychosis are very convincing, presuming you can get past her ridiculous Russian accent.

If it took itself less seriously, A Dangerous Method could be a hugely enjoyable historical romp. As it is, it's fun enough for fans of beards, accents and long montages of letter writing. Still, it needs more spanking.