'A Cure for Wellness' Review
Since the beginning, I have always followed Gore Verbinski's career. He made the unlikely Pirates of the Caribbean franchise work; it was based on a park ride attraction.
He made one of the few decent Japan-to-Hollywood remakes (The Ring) and directed one of the best animations of the last 20 years (Rango).
Although all these projects have great quality, I always felt that Verbinski was somehow limited. All these years, I have been waiting for his first big "free" movie.
A Cure for Wellness is that movie. For the first time, we can experience an unhitched Verbinski. Narrating more with images than with dialogue, creating a unique reality full of personality and characters that remain implanted in memory without the concern of the "PG" rating.
The story revolves around Lockhart (Dane DeHaan), a young and ambitious executive of a financial services firm in NY, who is virtually forced to "retrieve" the CEO of his company (Harry Groener). The CEO has apparently abandoned his old lifestyle, leaving a bureaucracy hell in the process, and has retired in a mysterious, luxurious "wellness center" in the Swiss Alps.
From that moment, the atmosphere designed by Verbinski assumes total protagonism. Clearly, there is a hidden reality behind this secluded place. Dr. Heinreich Volmer, played by the always untrusty Jason Isaacs, the staff, the patients, and the people of the nearest town all behave in an unstable, suspicious and tense manner. The clues begin to be revealed thanks to a--even more—enigmatic young girl called Hannah (Mia Goth), who charmed Lockhart at first sight.
The rest of the journey of this story includes 19th-century barons, horrific eels, dubious water, genetic experiments and an outcome that recalls the commitment and confidence of Roger Corman.
What's Your Rating For A Cure For Wellness?
One of the great achievements of A Cure for Wellness is its casting. Both DeHaan and Goth are perfect in their roles, embodying in their physical presence the health-disease duality of the film. Both are those strange examples of beauties that can look really pale and sick at one moment and on the other appear really vivid and attractive.
Moreover, the merit is almost entirely Verbinski's. In this story, there is blood, torture, and rape, but incredibly, all these aren't cheap shock maneuvers but necessary "dressings" to this built world. Also, this is one of those rare films in which the directing is focused on stimulating other senses like taste and smell.
The film lasts two hours and a half but the runtime doesn't leave its mark. The tense and dark atmosphere combined with the mastery of Verbinski in composing frames makes it impossible. Its strategic predictability responds precisely to the cravings for final revelation. And even when some themes, such as the concepts of "wellness" in the protagonist may have been deepened, Verbinski prefers to focus on visual storytelling, understanding that he has given us the thematic puzzle, if we want to solve it in depth.
Although the script has some flaws, such as the surprise car scene of the end or some inconsistencies in the logic of the main character, The directing is responsible for overlapping all that.
Don't be fooled by the lukewarm “Rotten Tomatoes” reviews. This is one of the best thriller/gothic love tale in recent years.
Title: A Cure For Wellness
Release Year: 2016
Director(s): Gore Verbinski
Actors: Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, Mia Goth, Ivo Nandi, a.o.
© 2019 Sam Shepards