Freud vs Jung, father vs son
David Cronenberg's film is technically a biography, arguably one of the most boring cinema genres. Yet this is clearly not your typical biography. Cronenberg has created all different kinds of films but the common trait of all is that they are real and unpretentious. In this film his favourite actor Viggo Mortensen was casted for the supporting part of Sigmund Freud, the so called "father of psychoanalysis". The lead part of Carl Jung, Freud's most famous student, was casted by an outstanding Michael Fassbender. Fassbender is a fairly recently discovered -by Quentin Tarantino- diamond, that was cut in Germany and Ireland. Here he overwhelmes the screen, yet in a very calm way.
The third main part is that of Sabina Spielrein. Keira Knightly can apparently also master demanding roles, not just Pirates of the Carribean likes. I can't wait to enjoy her in "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" (due for release on June 22 in US). In Dangerous Method she portrays a hysteric woman on whom Jung, after unsuccessfully testing conventional drug treatments, tries an experimental treating technique based on a series of dialogues. This was suggested by his mentor Freud, who had also tried it in some of his patients for quite a while. So these were the first rough seeds of psychoanalysis.
The script employs two parallel, loosely interconnected storylines; the relationship between Jung and Spielrein and the relationship between Jung and Freud. Both are quite interesting in their own way. Jung and Spielrein are both transformed not long after meeting each other. That was presented smoothly but to me what shined most in the film was the love/hate chemistry of Freud & Jung. Although this would speak better to those aware of their story, you certainly do not need to boast a major in psychology to understand some concepts. For instance one of the key concepts of psychoanalysis, the "father complex". Jung had in actual life accused Freud, in their letter correspondence, with sentences like this : "You are treating your pupils like patients... Meanwhile you sit pretty on top, as father". In a nutshell father complex consists of a fierce competition -literal or unconscious- between father and son, or mentor and student. Cronenberg transfered it to the cinematic medium beatifully, elegantly and quite simply.
It almost goes without saying that cinematography, production design, supporting actors and costumes are almost flawless. As for the music, it is unthreateningly ominous, minimalistic and enchanting, just like it should be for a film like this. Some tunes will probably remain in your head for quite a while.