A Dangerous Method

Rated 4.0

The birth of psychoanalysis is traced by director David Cronenberg and writer Christopher Hampton (from his play The Talking Cure, based on John Kerr’s book); their movie follows the relationship of Sigmund Freud (an incisive Viggo Mortensen) and Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) from mutual respect to ultimate estrangement, catalyzed by Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley)—first Jung’s patient, then his lover, then his and Freud’s colleague and a psychiatrist in her own right. Knightley’s often alarming performance grabs our attention, especially in her early “mad” scenes, but the quiet intellectual intensity of Mortensen and Fassbender’s scenes is an education for any actor. For that matter, so is the way Hampton nimbly distills and dramatizes the give-and-take among these three characters over the years. J.L.