I knew that A Dangerous Method was going to be a mess when I saw in the opening credits that about fifteen production companies had their hands in the film. While I can’t say it’s a bad movie, I couldn’t in my right mind (no pun intended) say it is anything less than sloppy.
Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) was considered a brilliant psychiatrist in his time, studying along with his successful patient Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) and his mentor Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen). But his personal life was filled with drastic questions about his colleagues’ and his own theories. The film follows him as he interacts with the people in his life and slowly begins to understand just how complicated the psychosis really is.
I used to think Keira Knightley was a pretty decent actress, but now that I’ve seen her in this film I’m expecting to completely write her off. In the beginning of the film she is playing an insane woman but goes way over the top in her performance. The audience I saw the film with was laughing throughout most of her early scenes at just how ludicrously she held herself on camera. But then later in the film when she has been cured, her “normal person” acting is just stale and boring with virtually no emotion to speak of. The weirdest part is that in some scenes there’s this nice thing she does where you can tell in her face and her voice that she’s not entirely cured, but then there are scenes where she’s completely normal, and this goes back and forth throughout the entire film. I guess you could say she’s having good days and bad days but really it just comes off as her being poorly directed.
It’s also very jarring how terrible the editing is, both film and sound. Scenes will cut in or out with awkward timing as will the music. The end of the film gets incredibly confusing when they make it seem as if a character dies and then show that person fine in the very next scene. It feels like they expected the audience to know the history and didn’t take the time to explain anything, or maybe there were just several scenes cut out. Incidentally, the film has a ton of time jumps throughout that get rather annoying. I understand it taking place over several years but every twenty minutes we’re jumping another two years.
Fassbender is okay and Mortensen gives a modest, albeit dull, performance. Jung’s wife Emma (Sarah Gadon) is bizarrely silent throughout the film. She hints at a couple points that her husband is abusive towards her, but we never see that side of his character so it just feels odd. I really can’t recommend this unless you’re a big fan of Michael Fassbender but I don’t think there are a lot of people like that just yet (give it time though).