Based on the 1993 book by John Kerr, David Cronenberg directed A Dangerous Method in 2011, delving into the relationship between two of the most important minds in psychoanalysis.
In 1904, Swiss psychoanalyst and psychiatrist Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) welcomes a new patient. Distraught, prone to attacks and traumatized by the abuse her father inflicted on her, Sabina Speilrein (Keira Knightley) becomes a treasured patient who is responsive to what his mentor, neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, called “the talking cure.” Jung realizes her potential and goal to become a doctor and takes her on as an assistant. Sabina thrives, and two years later, he visits Freud in Vienna. Their minds come together on theories on sex and sexuality, dreams, religion and Sabine. When Freud sends doctor and now patient Otto Gross (Vincent Cassel) to Jung, things change. Otto is ruled by his impulses and refuses to be repressed, encouraging Jung to act the same and give in to his attraction to Sabina. When Jung does, he starts a long affair, and Freud and Jung grow apart as their theories become fundamentally different, with the rift growing larger as the men grow older.
Cronenberg steps outside his typical genre fare to tackle a historical drama based on true events. A Dangerous Method is a quiet film with a conversational approach, chronicling the lives of Jung and Freud, bringing humanity and fallibility to the people who pioneered modern psychology. Knightley gives a standout performance as a woman torn by her trauma and pleasure, and the chemistry between Fassbender and Mortensen gave life to the famous friendship. The relationship between these psychology giants would eventually dissolve with a difference of opinion, showing that they, too, had to delve deep into their psyches for meaning.