First Hit: I liked the concept but this was a very uneven film.
Sabrina Spielrein (played by Keira Knightley) was a disturbed patient of Carl Jung (played by Michael Fassbender) and ended up being a psychologist and lover of Jung.
She was one of the first to be treated by Jung using the talking method (psychoanalysis). Unfortunately, Knightley’s rendition of Spielrein seemed totally out of place, overly acted, and poorly executed. From the jutting chin, distorted hand positions and the occasional half hearted attempt at a Russian accent, her part was mostly unwatchable.
For this I fault both director David Cronenberg and Knightley. The interaction between Freud (played by Viggo Mortensen) and Jung was somewhat better and as one who studied a lot of psychology and did work in this field I would have like a deeper engagement of each of their theories and the differences between them.
However this film floated along like a rudderless boat. In the end I didn’t care about any of the characters nor did I think I learned much.
Knightley was mostly horrible. This is the worst role I’ve ever seen her in and wonder why she was directed this way. Fassbender was very controlled and reserved as I suppose the character was required to be, yet it took away from the depth of who he was playing. Mortensen was better at Freud than the others were in their characters. There was an arrogant solidness of his thought process that was palatable and interesting. However I would have like to have known more. Christopher Hampton and John Kerr wrote a lifeless script. Cronenberg did not do his best work here and it showed.
Overall: For such a rich subject, to have this fall this flat was really very sad.