A Dangerous Method

Metascore
76

Generally favorable reviews - based on 41 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 41
  2. Negative: 1 out of 41

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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Liam Lacey
    Jan 12, 2012
    100
    Mostly, though, A Dangerous Method is a suave chamber piece: a series of glimpses of two 20th-century intellectual titans, in friendship and separation, and the story of a remarkable woman who history had swallowed up, brought into the light again.
  2. Reviewed by: J. Hoberman
    Nov 22, 2011
    100
    Cronenberg's film is at once a lucid movie of ideas, a compelling narrative, and a splendidly acted love story.
  3. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Nov 13, 2011
    100
    It's a handsome and stimulating film, noteworthy more for its terrific acting and provocative ideas than for any kind of dark Cronenbergundian genius.
  4. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Oct 24, 2011
    100
    Precise, lucid and thrillingly disciplined, this story of boundary-testing in the early days of psychoanalysis is brought to vivid life by the outstanding lead performances of Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen and Michael Fassbender.
  5. Reviewed by: Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Nov 30, 2011
    91
    Intelligent conversation about the interplay of erotic and destructive urges takes place over cups of tea in fine bone china. Yet the movie is a radically modern story about sex.
  6. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Nov 23, 2011
    91
    In the movie's final shot, Jung's confidence crumbles and he looks supremely troubled, still uncertain of a world he once believed could be explained with textual prowess. Better than any analysis, his expression sums up the dangerous method at the heart of every Cronenberg movie.
  7. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Nov 22, 2011
    90
    Full of ideas about sexuality - some quite provocative, even a century after their first articulation - but it also recognizes and communicates the erotic power of ideas.
  8. Reviewed by: Wesley Morris
    Dec 22, 2011
    88
    This is the best thing Mortensen's ever done. His slow, paunchy, hairy Freud has a cavalier authority and a capacity for drollery. He's also seductively wise in a way that makes both Fassbender and Knightley, as very good as they are, also seem uncharacteristically callow.
  9. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Dec 15, 2011
    88
    The wonderful thing about Fassbender and Mortensen? Several things, actually. They're effortlessly convincing in period, and they know how to make recessive characters intriguing.
  10. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Dec 14, 2011
    88
    Using a dialogue-heavy approach that's unusual for Cronenberg, his film is skilled at the way it weaves theory with the inner lives of its characters. We are learning, yet never feel we're being taught.
  11. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Nov 21, 2011
    88
    The actors give it their all, especially Knightley, whose jaw- jutting, heavily accented and unfairly criticized portrayal gives the film its fighting spirit.
  12. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Jan 25, 2012
    83
    A Dangerous Method is a movie believing the most formidable sex organ really is the brain.
  13. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Dec 21, 2011
    80
    What's surprising here, and pleasantly so, is the restraint shown by Mortensen and Fassbender -- and by Cronenberg.
  14. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Nov 28, 2011
    80
    Represents a big growth spurt in Mr. Cronenberg's career. Its measured pace, along with a style that is sometimes austere (though sometimes anything but) repays close attention with excellent acting and a wealth of absorbing information.
  15. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Nov 23, 2011
    80
    Certainly the most genteel film Cronenberg has ever made, with period costumes worthy of Merchant/Ivory, no gore, and very little physical violence. But A Dangerous Method doesn't feel like a wimp-out or a sell-out at all. It's a fiercely thoughtful film, a movie of ideas that understands how powerful ideas can be.
  16. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Nov 22, 2011
    80
    If the movie falls just shy of our highest mark, this is because Cronenberg is tamping down on his usually naturalistic performances - everything feels vaguely mad-scientist-ish.
  17. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Nov 22, 2011
    80
    In short, Cronenberg has made an elegant film, with spanking. There's some mildly kinky sex in A Dangerous Method, but Cronenberg makes it neither exploitive nor so tasteful that it loses its charge.
  18. Reviewed by: Kimberley Jones
    Dec 22, 2011
    78
    It's a period piece about the origins of psychoanalysis and the sexual confusions of its progenitors that is eloquent and handsomely made, if never quite revelatory.
  19. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Jan 20, 2012
    75
    Like psychoanalysis, A Dangerous Method takes its time as it circles an opening to unexplored depths. To reward our patience, Cronenberg gives us some honey-hued eye candy and rich dialogue, but if you're seeking instant gratification, I prescribe "Shame."
  20. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Jan 12, 2012
    75
    There's an icy chill, a detachment, to A Dangerous Method, too. Of course, there are no talking cockroaches (Naked Lunch), no naked steambath knife fights (Eastern Promises), and that may have something to do with why this all feels so un-Cronenbergian.
  21. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Jan 9, 2012
    75
    Ultimately, however, A Dangerous Method is less about the formative years of psychotherapy and two of its progenitors than it is about a rule-breaking extramarital affair.
  22. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Dec 22, 2011
    75
    Because nothing says 'holiday fun' quite like an intellectual struggle between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung peppered with a few vivid episodes of S-&-M sex, voila A Dangerous Method.
  23. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Dec 15, 2011
    75
    Mortensen has called A Dangerous Method Cronenberg's "Merchant-Ivory picture," but it just as often resembles a Woody Allen movie - literate, sophisticated and deeply concerned with sex and manners. (It's even mordantly funny, as an early scene at the Freud family dinner table attests.)
  24. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Nov 23, 2011
    75
    Gorgeously photographed by Peter Suschitzky, A Dangerous Method presents a vivid portrait of pre-World War I Europe that's at a considerable remove from the types of madness usually seen in Cronenberg's films.
  25. Reviewed by: Nick Schager
    Sep 26, 2011
    75
    As rigorous and stimulating as its thematic inquiries are, A Dangerous Method ultimately rests as much on its performances, and in that regard, it succeeds far more than it fails.
  26. 70
    That wordiness coupled with Cronenberg's classical restraint is part of the splendid Freudian joke at the movie's center.
  27. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    Nov 23, 2011
    70
    The clinical style doesn't play to the director's strengths. A Dangerous Method didn't have to be another "Naked Lunch," but Freud plus Jung plus Cronenburg should have equaled something a little more dissonant and troubling.
  28. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Nov 22, 2011
    70
    In his third consecutive Cronenberg film (after playing the righteous killers of A History of Violence and Eastern Promises), Mortensen is a happy surprise. Never has this tightly-wound actor seemed so relaxed in a difficult role; he is the charming papa Jung hates to overthrow but knows he must.
  29. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Nov 22, 2011
    70
    It's fascinating to see the exceptionally charismatic Fassbender squeeze himself into the role of the aristocratic, restrained Jung, and it's just as enjoyable to see Mortensen bring an unexpected virility to his sybaritic, cigar-chomping Freud.
  30. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Nov 13, 2011
    70
    This complex story from the early days of psychoanalysis engrosses and even amuses as it unfolds through a series of conversations, treatment sessions and exchanged letters.
  31. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Nov 23, 2011
    67
    Low point would be Knightley's hysterical opening sequences in which she appears to be trying to trying to contort herself into a Moebius strip. Overacting this gross can only have been enabled by a director. Didn't Cronenberg look at the rushes? Or did he think he was back in "Dead Ringers" territory?
  32. Reviewed by: Keith Phipps
    Nov 22, 2011
    67
    Spielrein's name is less familiar than the others, but the film suggests she deserves to be more than a footnote in the history of psychoanalysis.
  33. Reviewed by: Scott Bowles
    Nov 22, 2011
    63
    A Dangerous Method has plenty to say about sex, but it lacks much fire for it.
  34. Reviewed by: William Thomas
    Feb 6, 2012
    60
    Despite a top-notch cast performing well, and bravely in the case of Knightley, this is an austere, somewhat repressed movie. It never really gets under the skin in the way Cronenberg does at his best.
  35. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Nov 22, 2011
    60
    A Dangerous Method concerns itself primarily with sex, but what's most shocking is how conservative it turns out to be.
  36. 60
    Michael Fassbender (Fishtank, Inglourious Basterds) is reliably great, severely outclassing costar Knightley's grating performance.
  37. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Jan 27, 2012
    50
    A Dangerous Method still feels as if it's based on a rather pedestrian narrative --and so, in the final analysis, Cronenberg's film bores.
  38. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Dec 15, 2011
    50
    Instead we get Knightley, who juts her chin, quakes, shakes and bugs her eyes, but nothing about her pain calls out to us, because nothing in it seems real.
  39. Reviewed by: J.R. Jones
    Dec 15, 2011
    50
    Never really delivers on that promise, mainly because its scenes of two brilliant men discussing the nature of the subconscious can't compare with Cronenberg's visual rendering of that subconscious in earlier movies.
  40. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Nov 22, 2011
    50
    I can't imagine what attracted these two megahunks to such a bore.
  41. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Oct 27, 2011
    25
    Even a supporting turn by Vincent Cassell as Otto Gross, a fellow psychiatrist, cocaine addict and unapologetic adulterer, fails to enliven the movie: A Dangerous Method makes even a cokehead hedonist boring.

Awards & Rankings

User Score
6.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 132 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 29
  2. Negative: 7 out of 29
  1. Nov 27, 2011
    3
    Summary: On the eve of World War I, Zurich and Vienna are the setting for a boring snooze-fest of epic proportions. Drawn from true-lifeSummary: On the eve of World War I, Zurich and Vienna are the setting for a boring snooze-fest of epic proportions. Drawn from true-life events, "A Dangerous Method" manages to take the turbulent relationships between fledgling psychiatrist Carl Jung, his mentor Sigmund Freud, and Sabina Spielrein, the troubled but beautiful (phew! at least she's beautiful!) young woman who comes between them, and reduce them to a stilted, dry-as-sawdust, repetitive, uninteresting, and unenlightening entry from a 1950s World Book encyclopaedia. Into the mix comes Otto Gross, a debauched patient who is determined to push the boundaries. One might hope that this would offer the filmmakers an opportunity to explore any of the myriad fascinating aspects of all of these characters, their relationships, their theories, and the times in which they lived. Sadly, however, the movie descends even further into turgid, pseudo-intellectual, phony claptrap, the only physiological stimulation for audience members being a catastrophically hammy and unrealistic performance by the usually excellent anorexic, Keira Knightley. In this supposed exploration of sensuality, pretentiousness and cluelessness set the scene for the cinematic equivalent of an elementary school production of "The Miracle Worker." Full Review »
  2. Nov 23, 2011
    6
    Just saw A Dangerous Method and I liked it for the most part. It showcases the early years of psychoanalysis and the rise and fall of FreudJust saw A Dangerous Method and I liked it for the most part. It showcases the early years of psychoanalysis and the rise and fall of Freud and Jung's friendship. Cronenberg's straight-forward direction makes this film unfortunately bland, but adds subtle nuance to the solid story and all the characters. With that said, the film was very reliant on its precise script, and the actor's success at playing complex characters. What Cronenberg really did well, was to draw out strong performances, particularly from Keira Knightly, who was my favorite part of this movie. I cringed at first by her overly-dramatic performance in the beginning, but I liked it, and I like her performance more as she progressed and developed. She deserves some award recognition for this psycho-sexual performance, for sure. The pale direction didn't allow for much great technical attributes, but it did have some precise production designs. Overall; solid, good movie. Full Review »
  3. Mar 15, 2013
    8
    It's always difficult to review a movie based on psychology because sometimes what's difficult to understand is too easily categorized asIt's always difficult to review a movie based on psychology because sometimes what's difficult to understand is too easily categorized as illogical or bad execution.I heard so much criticism towards the last movie by Cronenberg.I completely disagree with those bad reactions."A dangerous method"is a brilliant ,absorbing and thought provoking movie that boasts excellent performances by the three leading actors.The direction is great and Cronenberg once again shows his uncommon ability to tell a story in a very original way although the dialogs are sometimes hard to follow,probably due to its subject.But there are really breathtaking moments such as the scenes of the Spielrein therapy.This leads me to Knightley performance.It was a brave,shocking and terrific performance that it was criticized without a reason.I didn't catch all that hatred.She has always been so good("Pride e prejudice","Atonement" and "Never let me go")but here she left her comfort zone to bare herself and gives one of the most exiting performances of the year.Oscar worthy material.Fassbender was equally great in the role of Jung and it's a pleasure to watch this splendid rising A-list actor.Mortensen was good but I fear not as good as Fassbender and Knightley.Cassell is always Cassell.He's a good actor but he plays always the role of the daring man.I think that "A dangerous method" is one of the best movies of the year.It succeeds to transcend from his particular story to focus on the hidden instincts associated with the human nature.My vote is 8/10 Full Review »