I didn’t like it. I nearly didn’t make it past the first scene. Jung is conducting his initial intake with extremely agitated Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley). She’s emotionally unstable but Knightley’s extreme facial contortions and sputtering are distracting and exaggerated. Her accent goes from Eastern European to American to Latina at random. Her cray cray is ferocious but not believable.
How would they introduce the “talking cure?” How did these two men engage upon their first meeting? How would they detail their collaboration? What caused their schism? I was excited to see it all.
Initially, we are teased into believing that there exists an intellectual connection binding Jung and his wife, Emma (Sarah Gadon). He’s not passionate about becoming a father. Soon, with Sabina’s help, he’s performing psychological tests on Emma that reveal she is ambivalent about their relationship and having a child. After that, she is just his child bearer, obsessed with giving him a son.
Jung starts connecting with the psychologically improving Sabina, who reveals she wants to be a doctor. We learn that as a result of the violence inflicted upon her by her father, she is a masochist.
There’s a lot very wrong here. The acting is lacking. The characters are unlikeable. The relationship between Freud and Jung is tepid. The usually fiery Mortensen is half a step above catatonic. His accent is English and not Austrian. We get few insights into Freud. His scenes with Fassbender aren’t dynamic. Fassbender turns around the best acting but still cannot help this movie. The writing is terrible. Take for instance, this whopper delivered by Sabina:
“I felt it against my back. Something…slimy like a, like a…like some kind of a mollusk moving against my back.”
There’s too much going on here. Jung’s attraction to Sabina, Sabina’s attraction to him, Jung trying to keep their affair from Freud and Emma, Freud interpreting dreams, Jung’s wife trying to keep him, yet the missing link is audience interest.
Director: David Cronenberg
Run time: 99 very long minutes