This makes the prim, Swiss, married Jung a little nuts. Soon he and Sabina are violating the stern protocols of classical psychoanalysis by having an affair that features sado-masochism. Freud, acted like a Jewish pope by Mortensen (with, yep, a phallic cigar), is more distantly entangled. He nudges along Sabina’s therapy while enjoying the gossip. In a fine tangle of irony, Jung’s sweet wife (Sarah Gadon) will eventually ask the improved, now deeply Freudian Sabina to analyze her guilty husband. Occurring from 1904 to 1913, the story seems timid, as if scared of an obscure scandal now a century old.
The old truisms apply: Freud as the magisterial father figure and stern rationalist, with Jung as the rebel son, not Jewish but instinctively mystical. We also get a sense that Spielrein generated important ideas (she was later, in the wartime Soviet Union, a victim of Hitler). Though handsomely made, this is David Cronenberg’s most sedate, passive movie. While not supine on a couch, it is often listless. John Huston churned up more panic and drama with Freud (1962), in part because star Montgomery Clift felt cornered by Huston’s scorn for Clift’s “weakness” (homosexuality). Though Freud is out of fashion now, he shouldn’t be boring.
Reviewed in the movie capsules: Alvin & the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol.