★ ★ ★
David Cronenberg’s films are, for most people at least, a love it or hate it situation. Surprisingly, my girlfriend really enjoyed this film despite the fact that she generally abhors anything by Cronenberg; I, on the other hand, am either genuinely engaged or somewhat intrigued by his work. This film, for me, I found somewhat interesting, and in a first, Maddie enjoyed a Cronenberg film more than I.
Based on a true story, this film analyzes the relationship that develops between famed psychiatrist Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and his patient-turned-mistress Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley). Furthermore, the film depicts the initial respect and collaboration between Jung and other famed early 20th century psychiatrist Sigmund Freud (an almost unrecognizable Viggo Mortensen), as well as their eventual falling out. Throughout the film, many elements of psycho analysis and sexual psychology are interpreted and pondered through the dialog between the primary characters.
This is a smart film, and has a smart script. The psychological analysis throughout the narrative is interesting, but on the whole, leaves something to be desired in regards to entertainment value. Fassbender and Mortensen give good performances playing their respective iconic figures, and Knightley, who I am rarely impressed with, let history take precedent and didn’t impress me. She did well throughout the film holding her Russian accent, but overall, I found her performance wooden and lifeless. As for being a Cronenberg film, this felt possibly one of the more “normal” of the lot. The narrative was relatively straight forward and the direction was fairly standard, a sharp contrast to the usual bizarreness of a large body of his work.
If you like psychology and like a “based on a true story” movie, then I could see one finding this film quite enjoyable. For me, though I am interested in psychology to a degree, the entertainment value was only slightly better than average, which outweighed the intriguing subject matter.