WELL, HERE'S ANOTHER FINE MESS
Film Review by Fiore
A CURE FOR WELLNESS, the latest thriller from Gore Verbinski, had the potential to be a unique, weird and haunting thriller, but it misses its mark. We can blame Editors Pete Beaudreau and Lance Pereira; again, proving my point that more than one editor ruins the production. The film logs in at two and a half hours; a one hour transgression against good movie making. The second act is longer than the film should be in its entirety. During this extra time, the picture comes to several conclusions, and then inexplicably, continues its storyline down a different path. The affect is disconcerting. It causes one to squirm with impatience, lose interest in the plot and develop a severe case of swamp ass.
Perhaps I’m being too harsh. Perhaps the fault does not lie with Beaudreau and Pereira. They may only have been following orders. Perhaps we should blame Screenwriter Justin Haythe for not orchestrating the thriller with more restraint; or Verbinski for not corralling his henchmen.
Whatever the reason, by the time the third act begins, A CURE FOR WELLNESS has worked itself into a cinematic corner. Desperate for an all-inclusive conclusion, Verbinski purloins conclusions from other notable flicks to glue his cracks. The ending features: an unmasking from THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA; a Dwight Frye inspired storming and burning of the castle, as in FRANKENSTEIN; a twist on the ending of THE PORTRAIT OF DORIAN GRAY; a hint to SHUTTER ISLAND; and even a nod to INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS. If all those combined conclusions can’t successfully end your film, something has gone terribly wrong.
Dane DeHaan stars as Lockhart, a young, up and coming executive who is bamboozled by the company board to travel to an exclusive resort in Switzerland designed to help eliminate free radicals from the body and put everyone on a course to wellness. The company’s CEO, Pembroke, played by Harry Groener, is at the resort, and the company cannot proceed with a merger it desperately needs without his signature on key documents. Lockhart travels to the resort, which is actually the Hohenzollern Castle in the foothills of the Swabian Alps, to retrieve Pembroke and return him to Wall Street, only to discover the sanitarium is akin to James Bond’s beloved Shrubblands, only on steroids and pulsing with Ponce De Leon’s fountain of youth.
While at the resort, Lockhart discovers a young, nubile nymph named Hannah, played by Mia Goth who seems to be the epicenter of the institution’s mysterious mien. She, along with all the other patients, have an unhealthy loyalty to Dr. Heinrich Volmer, played by Jason Isaacs, who rules the sanitarium with an iron fist and a winning smile. Slowly, he discovers the secret of the resort’s strange inhabitants and its sordid past.
KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:
1. OPENING TRAIN SHOT
2. THE BAR SCENE
3. THE DENTIST
A CURE FOR WELLNESS attempts to deliver shocks to viewers through scenes of intense violence. For example: there is a scene reminiscent of Jeff Goldblum’s bathroom visit in David Croneberg’s version of THE FLY; and there is a dental scene straight from Dustin Hoffman’s THE MARATHON MAN; and though it is a bit of a stretch, the eels vaguely remind me of the space worms in SQUIRM.
Depending on your viewpoint, you can also see this film as a rebellion against big pharma for natural healthcare, or you can see it the other way around. The film makes enough vague allures to satisfy both viewpoints.
Drawing from all these previous works, A CURE FOR WELLNESS should work better. The real hindrance is the second act. This movie is simply too long, with no good reason. It severely hurts the entire endeavor.
Let’s take a look at the film’s report card:
ACTING = B
CINEMATOGRAPHY = A
SOUND/MUSIC = B
EDITING = F
LIGHTING = B
SCRIPT = F
SFX = B
Words of advice – when you go to see A CURE FOR WELLNESS, do not sit in the leather seats in a warm theatre; wear something comfortable and loose, you will be sitting for a long time; do not sit next to two cackling hens who feel the need to Rege Cordic the entire film while detailing their recent social escapades.