In this erotic mind-bender from director David Cronenberg, talk isn't cheap, it's what helped birth modern psychiatry at the start of the 20th century. Swiss therapist Carl Jung (an outstandingly good Michael Fassbender) is giving the "talking cure" to Russian Jew Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley), a howling sexual hysteric with an itch to shrink heads herself and get the married Jung to spank her, for starters. This goes against the belief of Jung's Viennese mentor, Sigmund Freud (a purring Viggo Mortensen has a high old time playing a man who likes to have the last word). Screenwriter Christopher Hampton sets up a duel between the men with Spielrein as prime instigator. Leave it to Cronenberg to make the cerebral sizzle. On a ship heading to New York, Freud asks Jung, "Do you think they know we're on our way, bringing them the plague?" Talk among yourselves. The actors give it their all, especially Knightley, whose jaw- jutting, heavily accented and unfairly criticized portrayal gives the film its fighting spirit.
Liam Daniel, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
From The Archives Issue 1145: December 8, 2011