Jung and the rest­less

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Eguide Movies - LEIGH PAATSCH Now show­ing State Cinema Prone to hys­ter­ics: P7

AN UN­DE­NI­ABLY fas­ci­nat­ing and achingly for­mal pe­riod drama, A Dan­ger­ous Method trans­ports the viewer to a cru­cial cross­roads in the evo­lu­tion of mod­ern psy­cho­anal­y­sis.

( Most of you prob­a­bly nod­ded off dur­ing that open­ing para­graph. Go get a cof­fee and I’ll wait for you be­low.)

There’s due to be a head- on col­li­sion be­tween two found­ing fa­thers of ther­apy for the mind. But be­ing the early 1900s and all, it’s go­ing to take yonks for it to hap­pen. Cars didn’t go that fast back then, re­mem­ber?

To help the time pass, we are first in­tro­duced to a wor­ry­ingly ner­vous young Rus­sian named Sabina Spiel­rein ( Keira Knight­ley). Her favourite pas­times, she says, are ‘‘ sui­cide and in­ter­plan­e­tary travel’’.

This state­ment can only lead the viewer to de­duce the fol­low­ing – Miss Spiel­rein is: ( a) ly­ing; ( b) not that good at ei­ther dis­ci­pline; or ( c) stark rav­ing mad.

All of this makes her the per­fect pa­tient for as­pir­ing su­per- shrink Carl Jung ( Michael Fass­ben­der). He be­lieves this new- fan­gled psy­cho- ther­apy is so crazy it just might work.

Jung soon be­comes a pen pal, and then a best bud, of the one and only Sig­mund Freud ( Viggo Mortensen). But the two are des­tined to be­come fren­e­mies on ide­o­log­i­cal grounds.

In short, Siggy reck­ons any prob­lem with the brain box is all about sex. Carl kind of agrees for a while, then comes to think the psy­che isn’t strictly hard­wired to the crotch.

The film steps pur­pose­fully through the tale. The vibe is con­fi­dent, com­mit­ted, and – let’s not beat about the long black couch here – just that lit­tle bit bor­ing.

Fass­ben­der and Mortensen com­plete their du­ties with clin­i­cal pre­ci­sion, though overdo the preg­nant pauses and quizzi­cal stares. Per­haps they were billing by the hour?

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