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a-dangerous-method-pic08With the release of “A Dangerous Mind,” the tautly told story of two psychoanalysts you’ve heard of, Dr. Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen), plus one you’ve probably never heard of, Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley), director David Cronenberg is still exploring uncharted territory in his films.

On the surface the story seems simple enough. Two pioneering figures of psychoanalysis have a falling out over an intelligent, beautiful but troubled patient. In the hands of Cronenberg and writer Christopher “Dangerous Liaisons” Hampton however, the movie becomes an enticing stew of psycho-sexuality and repression that challenges commonly held beliefs about what is normal and what is not.

Cronenberg, always known for his crisp filmmaking, has rarely ever been this simply elegant. Shot compositions and camerawork are kept simple so as not to distract from the star of the show—the dialogue. As you can imagine, in a drama about three therapists (Spielrein became a doctor after her treatment with Jung), there is a great deal of talk. Separately and together they talk about their dreams, their pasts and, in the case of Jung and Spielrein, their future. It may be the most inward looking movie of the year, but in its introspection—and buried in the film’s subtext—is a restrained but fascinating glimpse into the lives and minds of these characters.

Keira Knightley delivers a brave, strange and Oscar worthy performance as Spielrein, while Fassbender expertly plays the repression that plagued Jung. Cronenberg muse Viggo Mortensen may seem an odd choice to play Freud, but he leaves behind the physical performances that have marked his best work to create a convincing portrait of Freud.

“A Dangerous Method” won’t be for everyone. The combo of love story and birth of modern analysis is an odd mix. The almost total lack of physical action—Cronenberg’s fireworks here are in the small moments and the ideas expressed in the script—means the focus is on the words, but where some will see a film rich with dialogue, others will see it as verbose. But that’s just the kind of duality the movie explores.

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