Film Review – A Cure For Wellness
A Cure For Wellness
A Cure For Wellness is director Gore Verbinski’s (Pirates of the Carribean, The Ring) latest film, and rather than a big, blockbuster film like his last, The Lone Ranger, Verbinski goes for psychological thriller with a less ambitious setting.
Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) is put in charge of retrieving the CEO of a major financial company after he goes AWOL at a health spa in Switzerland. The CEO, Pembroke (Harry Groener), has written his company that he will not be coming back, but alas, he is needed for an upcoming merger. Upon arriving at the health spa, he is given the run-around about where Mr. Pembroke is and when Lockhart can see him. Frustrated that he will not be able to see him, Lockhart retreats back down the mountain, but is seriously injured in a car wreck that lands him back in the health spa, but now as a patient. It is now in his convalescence that Lockhart begins to realize all the crazy, weird things that go on in this elite health spa. He finds a less than willing Pembroke, as well as a long-time resident, Hannah (Mia Goth), with whom he strikes up a friendship. In his search for Pembroke and the discovery of many strange happenings, he becomes at odds with the spa director, Volmer (Jason Isaacs). The longer he stays, the more Lockhart’s curiosity gets the better of him and he finds out the truth.
The tinge of green in the world of A Cure For Wellness is initially what struck me as intriguing. It harkens back to The Matrix, in which the real world is not real. In this instance, green conveys sickness, or the perceived illness of the world. Retreating from it all, and taking “the cure” will make you whole again. The title of the film can be taken in two ways. In one, curing sickness to become well. In the second, a cure for the well to become sick. It is in that double meaning that we find the problem with this spa in beautiful, remote Switzerland.
This film is hard to review due to the fact that there is a lot you are not seeing of the film from the trailers that have not been released thus far. It is also difficult because there are many strange things that happen and some of them cannot be explained. If you are expecting this film to be weird, you are getting exactly that plus whip cream and an eel on top of it. Yes, an eel. A creature that is very much wrapped up in the history of the spa and is just one crazy element of it all.
It is in the history of the spa that all that happens to Pembroke and Lockhart can be (kind of) explained. The miraculous water, the eels, and the origin of the spa all collude to take advantage of the wealth patrons of this place. If Lockhart was not so insistent on finding Pembroke and taking him away, his story would have a much different ending. It is another incident of curiosity killing the cat.
Both Gore Verbinski and screenwriter Justin Haythe (Revolutionary Road, The Lone Ranger) are both complicit in taking on way more than they can chew or explain in the exceedingly long runtime of almost two and a half hours. There are holes in some of the elements of the film that leave the viewers to make up their own reasoning because there is never an attempt to explain it. I could go into specifics, but that leads to spoiler alerts as much of the unexplained elements occur in the last half of the film.
If you are at all squeamish about things being done to your mouth or being forcefully inserted into you (not a sex reference, but probably should apply anyways), this film will have you cringing, or in my case, looking away from the screen for minutes at a time. There is weird (that word is repeated many times in this review, and rightfully so) stuff happening to people’s bodies and it just gets worse as the film progresses. This film validates that MPAA should probably have an oral category in their ratings.
A Cure For Wellness is just plain weird. Actually, I would use the naughty word for sex, and it is the best descriptor of this film hands down. The feel of the film and it being a psychological thriller will bring in the audience clamoring for something unique, and this is definitely it. However, it is too ambitious for its own good, leaving the audience to figure things out that should be explained and taking things a bit too far down the rabbit hole. The film is too long and it feels like it when watching it. The excellent Dane DeHaan works masterfully well as the guy trying to figure it all out, even if it is not in his best interest. Jason Isaacs is again the antagonist because he does it so damn well, even when it goes too far in this case. A Cure For Wellness is a welcome original film that unfortunately falls apart in the last third and suffers from being just too weird and strange for its own good.