The film, A Dangerous Method, directed by David Cronenberg, is quite the intense film on many levels. The plot describes the history of psychoanalysis, with facts and documentation that was little known until a few years ago.
Keira Knightly is amazingly brilliant as the real-life Sabrina Spielrein, the daughter of well-off Russian Jews. She is a troubled young woman, who becomes a patient of Carl Jung in 1904. She did quite well under his psychiatric direction, and eventually garnered a degree in psychiatry, due to his helpful influence.
Spielrein was one of Jung’s first patients in which he used an experimental psychoanalytic theory. Through his sessions with her, they became more than doctor and patient. They had a very intense affair, and they both manipulated each other to gain a desired end. This all while she was still his patient. He eventually breaks off their affair, leaving her extremely wounded.
Fast forward and we see Spielrein writing to Sigmund Freud regarding the affair. Freud was a mentor to Jung, and they both collaborated on psychoanalysis and treatment methods. Once learning of the affair, the egos of the two men collide, and each one tries to maintain a sense of control over which is the best mode of treatment. Freud distances himself from Jung, and does not forgive him his trespassing, especially while Spielrein was his patient. He questions his own decision to let Jung continue his psychiatric legacy.
I found the sexual scenes to be disturbing regarding the doctor patient relationship. The manipulations that are bounced back and forth between Spielrein and Jung were overt and aggressive on both their parts. I saw raw emotion emanating from her, and I had a sense of coldness coming from him.
The film sheds new light on the historical significance of psychoanalysis and its forefathers. It was quite a surprise to me, when the long hidden secrets of the relationship between Spielrein and Jung were shown in full force, nothing left unturned before my eyes.
I would recommend A Dangerous Method to all who are interested in psychology, psychoanalysis and its beginnings, and those interested in Jung and Freud. But, on a larger scale I recommend this film for the little know facts regarding Sabina Spielrein and her contribution to the psychoanalytical methods of psychiatry.
There is so much more to A Dangerous Method, than I am writing, but you must see it for yourself and make your own conclusions. It is not a joyful film, but a film that entails the mindsets of three very strong-willed individuals. It is tragic on many levels. David Cronenberg is masterful in his conveyance of the characters and their mindsets.