Christopher Hampton

A Dangerous Method is crammed with alarm and peril at the outset. A young, dark-featured woman in white is barely contained in a moving carriage in 1904—she is screaming, heaving, sighing—and she is being taken to a clinic just outside Zurich where she will become the patient of Dr Carl Jung. Outside the smart establishment, on what seems a fine day, she is carried inside still writhing like an eel on a cutting board. She turns out to be Sabina Spielrein, and she is played by Keira Knightley, not an actress who has carried me away in the past.

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I was quite irritated with the clumsy way Atonement director Joe Wright and screenwriter Christopher Hampton adapted the already problematic conclusion of Ian McEwan's novel. But Matt Zoller Seitz, I think it's fair to say, is furious: Atonement, Joe Wright's version of Ian McEwan's novel, is visually snappy but emotionally inert, and it distorts the novel's much talked-about, already problematic, extra-narrative twist so profoundly that it left me aghast.

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