Directed by David Cronenberg, written by Christopher Hampton and John Kerr. This is a look into the lives of Freud, Jung , Sabina Spielrein and Otto Gross as we see them developing over years of meetings and workings together.
It mainly focuses around Freud and Jung as they look at their first patient together Spielrein, who later in life becomes one of the worlds leading and first psychoanalysts.
This film for anyone even vaguely familiar with the workings of anyone mentioned above will find this film rich with intellect and refreshingly satisfying. I myself am among those who enjoy reading the works of the people mention above, so it was interesting for me to see how they were represented in this by these amazing actors.
The film begins with the first meeting between Spielrein when she is admitted to Jung’s establishment as his first proper patient. To begin with this is fascinating, as we are given the insight into how her mind worked and why it worked in this way. Her relationship with Jung is very intriguing and keeps us interested. However once we reach the point where it inevitably becomes sexual it also becomes rather dull and predictable. Admittedly this is how it happened in real life that Jung took her as a patient first and then a mistress, this does not make it more interesting though hard to avoid without arising angry fans about the authenticity of the film.
Keira Knightly herself was excellent in this, indeed this is one of her best performances to date, though I do question her accent which I found off-putting. She is Russian with German ancestry yeat her accent is not of that , her accent is very off-putting which is a shame. Apart from this little quibble I thought her performance was interesting, especially at the beginning with Jung and her conversation with Freud.
Viggo Mortensen plays Sigmund Freud and does do an excellent Job of it. Indeed I have yet to see an adaptation of Freud as good as the one i’ve just seen. The only criticism I have , which is not of Mortensen at all, is that I wish there had been more interactions and debates between Jung and Freud about their ideology’s the theory’s which was for me the highlights of the film. Instead we are treated to rather predictable scenes with Spielrein and Jung which start interesting, lose focus along the way and finally deliver a good story line at the end.
Indeed as I say the best parts of this film for me are the scenes that Mortensen has with both people , the dialogue is rich and in-depth. Something lacking in a lot of scripts these days. Their decisions about how the mind works and how and why people think are excellent.
Michael Fassbender plays Carl Jung and he does an excellent job of it. Mortensen and Fassbender play off each other perfectly, making any scene together with them a joy to watch and listen to. Fassbender’s transformation from one role to the next is incredible so that no matter how powerful a performance you may have seen him give in one role, his next role with be better and you will forget what he has played and simply be in the moment with him.
Vincent Cassel plays Otto Gross and it’s a shame really of how underplayed he was. The performance is excellent but they barely scratch the surface of this man who is incredibly interesting, yet he is made to simply play the Devil on Jung’s shoulder edging him closer to do what is clearly wrong. I feel he either should have been not in the film at all or made a bigger part than he was. In fact they should have had less scenes with Spielrein and Jung with the boring sexual affair and simply had it as more discussions and theoretical debates.
One very nice thing about this film was that you weren’t obstructed by time, we see all these people through many years allowing them to develop and allow us to examine them closely. It would have been nice to see the joinery they took once they reached America but understandably that story is far to big and long to include in this without making it shorter and doing it a disservice. Though I would enjoy seeing that as a separate film altogether.
OVERALL**** an excellent film which actually makes you think, sit up and pay attention to whats being said. recommendation to anyone even faguely intrested in the workings of these people and an excellent performance by a very strong cast.