Taking place in the decade leading up to WWI, this period piece/historical fiction is as standoffish and mannered as the era it represents. Director David Cronenberg does not fail to show us sexual fetishes, and the "madness" of Jung's patient Sabina Spielrein, but somehow it all comes off as sterile as a psychoanalysis session (although a beautifully filmed one).
I was originally taken by the intellectual arguments between Jung and his hero/mentor Sigmund Freud, but by the end of the film it all seemed an overblown bit of psycho babble for me - all self important and really coming down to nothing special at all.
I blame the script and direction for this, as really the performances, especially that of Vigo Mortenson as Freud, were top notch; even if Kiera Knighly's Spielrein seemed too bi-polar for my tastes and her mad mannerisms didn't seem to fit her illness.
Taking into consideration that a fair part of the story involves Jung's dream of feeling trapped by his wife and children, this still didn't give Cronenberg license to rinse and repeat - 2 years later another child is born. Followed by a scene marked as "a year later in Vienna", followed by "a year later another.... You get the idea.
I'm truly vexed over what could have been here - and I really wanted this film to shine; but in spite of the fascinating subject matter concerning these two titans of psychoanalysis I'm left feeling that there was so much more to be had here than the story presented, and more so, the way it was presented.
I'm also not completely sold in Cronenberg's depiction of Jung as some kind of psychic channelor - able to reach into the great beyond for portents of upcoming events. To me this seemed like an easy way to explore the differences in Freud's practices and the theorums that Jung was to later expouse. Add that the great schism between the two minds held very little drama and the interplay between doctor and patient (who later became a doctor in her own right) lacked any sense of urgency or pathos and you get a film that, while interesting in part, overall suffered from too much navel contemplation.