Knightley plays Sabina Spielrein, who in 1904 is admitted by her mother to the Burgholzli Clinic in Zurich for bouts of hysteria. She finds herself in the care of Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender), who, unusually for the time, uses the “talking method” of treatment. These days we call it psychoanalysis. Slowly, Jung helps Sabina to realize the roots of her problems and the pair forms a friendship. Enter Otto Gross (Vincent Cassel), a free-thinking, cocaine-sniffing psychoanalyst who encourages Jung to explore a sexual relationship with Sabina, which Jung does, complicating his own psyche, as well as his marriage to Emma (Sarah Gadon). Perhaps the only person that can help him is his mentor and father figure, Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen), whose views only make the situation that much more complex, as does Sabina’s own interest in psychoanalysis, at which she herself is becoming more and more adept.
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