The movie suffers from one major flaw, which is that we never quite understand any of the characters as people. Perhaps because Cronenberg has been immersed in the imagery and ideas of psychoanalysis for so long, it's hard for him to tell a story about it that doesn't assume his audience is already familiar with all the ins and outs of Freud and Jung's relationship. A Dangerous Method is less a narrative and more a series of vignettes that capture bits of Freud and Jung's lives without much explanatory tissue in between. As a result, the film may not be particularly persuasive or enjoyable for people who know nothing about the history of psychoanalysis and the people who popularized its methods.


But for anyone who loves Cronenberg's work, or meaty historical drama, A Dangerous Method is a treat. Visually stunning, with sumptuous sets and costumes, the movie is like a Merchant Ivory flick for intellectual perverts. The acting is terrific, and Mortenson is especially memorable as a sympathetic Freud who has been frustrated in so many ways — sexually, socially, and scientifically. And yet he pushes on, trying to unlock the key to the human mind, despite finding again and again that we are driven by social demons as much as we are by sexual ones.