The story of Sabina Spielrein, Sigmund Freud, and Carl Jung and the birth of the talking method of dealing with mental instability. Jung is doing his best to follow Freud’s methods, but finds them too restrictive. Still, he is having some luck with his patients, and this is where Sabina comes into the story. She had an abusive father and she came to like the abuse. Jung and Sabina start out as Patient and Doctor, but this soon enough changes into Dominant and Submissive.
Jung is a bit concerned about Sabina’s desire to be beaten and they eventually end the affair. While Jung’s relationship with his wife is mentioned in passing and his relationship with his mistresses gets some coverage, his really important relationship is with Freud.
Freud wants to base his work on solid, scientific foundations. Amazingly, Jung believes in all manner of supernatural nonsense. He likes to think of his dreams as premonitions and eventually Freud refuses to talk to him about his dreams. The two great men drift apart, and they also drift away from Sabina, who has become a psychologist in her own right by this time.
The story jumps around in time and we skip years at a time. Near the end of the story, we see Jung talking to Sabina and he describes the coming of the world wars and how these visions have weighed upon him. When Sabina asks him what his visions mean, he says he doesn’t know.
Viggo Mortensen does a great job as Freud. Michael Fassbender seems overly stiff in his role as Jung, but then, he seems overly stiff in everything I’ve ever seen him in. Keira Knightley does a good job of appearing mad and in torment. She does a lot of unpleasnt work with her jaw in the opening scenes that help to make her look insane. The rest of the case is also good. The costumes and sets were good.
It was an interesting story and it had the feeling of a documentary. I tend to doubt that Jung had visions of the future. Which makes me wonder about the truth of the other events depicted. Still, it was an interesting movie.