Review of “Freud” on Netflix (4.5/5)

There’s a hell of a lot to unpack from Netflix’s Freudian suitcase, but I’ll do my best without too many spoilers. You can watch with English dubbing, but the Wienerisch (Viennese German) dialect is interesting if you’re a language nerd like me. The subtitles are well-done and keep pace with the dialogue.

From the first episode, Freud veers sharply into the unknown. This series is not for the faint of heart… or stomach… or for those afraid of full-on male nudity. This is, after all, a European production — not an American prude-fest. And it’s about Freud. Penises should probably be billed as supporting actors. But it’s not glorified or salacious sex, just for the sake of it. It’s very much in keeping with the (admittedly twisted) plot.

The acting is excellent, especially Robert Finster in the lead. It must be difficult to portray a drug-addicted psychoanalyst who needs just as much help as his patients. Physician, heal thyself? But truthfully the plot has very little to do with Freud’s real life. This is not a biopic or even a docudrama. Netflix gives us a fictionalized account of Sigi’s early years in an unstable Austro-Hungarian Vienna. The hero is desperate to prove his bizarre methods will actually work, using cocaine to fuel his Sherlockian abilities to assist the shell-shocked Inspector Kiss and his superbly-mustachioed sidekick Poschacher solve the murder of a woman and the disappearance of a young girl.

Stirring the pot is spiritualist medium named Fleur, who seems to have a precognition of a series of gruesome crimes perpetrated against and by the city’s elite. However, Kiss isn’t as convinced of Fleur’s innocence as Freud. As her past is slowly revealed, we wonder if her mental instability is the result of unthinkable trauma of her childhood, or something more sinister.

One thing is certain. Freud is obsessed with curing her. As the series progresses, however, the question of curing Fleur quickly transforms into a matter of surviving the chaotic, demonic maelstrom that is Fleur.

While Fleur seeks out Freud’s cure for her worsening state of mind, her adoptive parents, Sophia and Viktor von Szápáry are doing their best to keep Fleur under their control. She is, after all, their key to gaining access to the Austrian Emperor. Their motives are fairly clear early on in the series, but to me, their story arc is a slow burner.

To say much more would lead to some spoilers, which I don’t want to give away. So I’ll sum up my observations: Freud is a cocaine-fueled, tobacco-choked, blood-soaked, gore-heavy, geo-political, pseudo-historical, occult-obsessed, devil-posessed, sexually-repressed, full-frontal, murder-mystery, surrealistic crazy train. And I loved it. Freud is infinitely watchable and extremely entertaining, but you’ve been warned.

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