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Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Writer's Life 4/8 - Talking Cure

A couple of months ago I read Love's Executioner by Irvin D. Yalom, a short story collection that chronicled the renowned psychiatrist's most fascinating cases. That led me to add When Nietzsche Wept (2007), an adaptation of his novel, to my Netflix list. I watched it last night. It pales in comparison to the remarkable story collection, but wasn't the unwatchable mess several people dubbed it in web commentary. Although I've read at least two of  Nietzsche's books, I did so on my own, not under the guide of a teacher. I'd guess those who dislike the film most are serious students of psychology and philosophy. The narrative is from the point of view of Josef Breuer, a successful physician who developed the "talking cure," which was embraced by one of his students, Sigmund Freud, who is referred to in the flick as Siggy. Bits and pieces of the ideas of the three historical figures are sprinkled throughout. The central story involves the unhealthy obsession Nietzsche has for a woman decades ahead of her time, which Breuer helps him overcome. The tables turn, as Breuer reveals how distant he has grown from his loving wife. Both men struggle to shed despair. The film's tagline is: "We are more in love with desire than the desired." Having twice suffered the unrequited love of someone I was nuts about in adulthood, I easily related to Nietzsche's plight. There are many dream sequences. Some come off as silly, comical rather than profound, particularly one in which the two are paddling a canoe shaped like a swan. That is easily forgiven, as dreams are frequently bizarre. Assante's performance as the philosopher is uneven, more convincing when he is quiet than when he's over the top. Ben Cross is superb as the doctor, as is the still beautiful Joanna Pacula as his wife. Jamie Elman is adequate as the 25-year-old Freud. The women with whom the distressed pair are obsessed, Anna Winnick as the pre-feminist enchantress, and Michal Yanni, whose character would be immortalized on paper as Anna Q by Breur, are terrific. Pinchas Perry adapted the screenplay and directed. He has been at the helm of only three films since 1996, all of which he wrote. I give him credit for risking criticism in such grand fashion. The running time is only 1:45, and there are several pieces of classical music masterpieces interspersed to liven the proceedings. The appeal of the subject matter is likely limited to those who dabble in it, not study it intensely. I liken it to cliff notes. 3000+ users at IMDb have rated it, forging to a consensus of 6.5 of ten, which was surprising given the vitriol of the detractors. Breuer died in 1925 at 83, Nietzsche in 1900 at 56, Freud in 1939 at 83.  

Here's a curveball: congratulations to Wei-Yin Chen. Who, you say? The Marlins pitcher entered last night’s game against the Mets without a base hit through 50 career at-bats. He beat out a dribbler to get off the schneid. (Yahoo Sports)

My thanks to Lyudmila, who bought A Hitch in Twilight, the 200th copy of it to sell, counting Kindles. Thanks also to Bill Brown, author of Words and Guitar: A History of Lou Reed's Music, who bought a couple of CD's, and to Monsey, who bought three; to Jack of Chase, who bought a hardcover thriller, and to the other kind folks who made purchases on this beautiful day.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
Vic's Short Works:

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