We follow Carl Jung(Michael Fassbender), who was an admirer of the highly talented Sigmund Freud(Viggo Mortensen) and tried and used the controversial method called “the talking cure”. Still Jung is presented with a slight challenge in the form of a woman named Sabina(Keira Knightley) who has a lot of problems, basically she connects pain with love and sex. As Jung heals her he finds himself falling in love with her. Their relationship also helps tear Jung away from Freud and almost makes them rivals.
This film is perfect for David Cronenberg who isn’t afraid of violence and sex in his films. Now the film isn’t violent at all but sex is always a topic. This may be one of his most clean films, no real visuals here, mainly just dialogue. Fassbender gets most of the screen time here as the film focuses on him treating Sabina. The love story isn’t what you would think it would be since a lot of it happens of screen. Jung of course being a married man with children can’t keep up the love affair. The way Jung handles himself though burns away at his relationship with Freud. The respect begins to fade and only the competitive nature of the men remain. Cronenberg does a fantastic job here and many scenes are just so crisp and clean looking, I loved it. My only problem would be some editing choices that made the film a little choppy.
Acting wise Fassbender is becoming a force of nature with great performances in X-Men: First Class and Shame, now here he is becoming a top notch actor. Mortensen is almost unrecognizable, if I didn’t know ahead of time it was him I think I wouldn’t have guessed it. His screen time is limited but it stands out every time he is on screen. The true stand out though is Keira Knightley who was asked to do a lot. Not only is her character Sabina Russian she has very odd movements, especially early on as she deals with the pain she went through in her youth. Knightley is mainly remembered for the Pirate film franchise. Here though she is showing off her acting chops and it really helps give a lot of life to the film. Without her I’m not exactly sure what would keep people interested as her character is the life force of the script and the story. The script is also very solid, it is deep and never afraid to dive into topics of sex and emotions connecting to choices we make. It was a real treat for me to get another Cronenberg film and I enjoyed it so much that it felt like five minutes past as the film ended. If you have any interest in Jung or Freud then this film is a must see.