Weekly Review: A Cure for Wellness (2017)

After his job sends him to the Swiss Alps to retrieve the CEO of his company from a mysterious wellness center, ambitious, young Lockhart begins to think that this seemingly idyllic location is a front for something far more sinister.

A Cure for Wellness was honestly one of my most anticipated releases for February 2017. All of the commercial spots portrayed this mysterious, epic experience. When I saw that this film was directed by Gore Verbinski, I was even more excited. The atmosphere that Verbinski created with the 2002 American remake of The Ring is one that really stuck out to me. I hoped that A Cure for Wellness would share this same feeling.

As expected, Verbinski is perfectly able to create this suspenseful, gothic atmosphere that really presents this wellness center as something that is both clean and vile. Everything comes together beautifully. The cinematography is stunningly symmetrical. The set and costume design are reserved, which works well with the story at hand. I found the pacing of the edit to be extremely compelling.

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The color correction within the film is very bleak and grey. Normally I would have complaints about this, but for the nature of this film, it really fits. It makes the wellness facility seem very sterile, while also hinting at the potential sinister realities of what the patients are really facing. It does a good job of making each person in the facility seem sickly. It’s very apparent from the start that something is not right.

The actors in the film all do a really solid performance. The main character, Lockhart, is portrayed by Dane DeHaan (The Amazing Spiderman 2). He does a pretty decent job of portraying a man who is battling with his trust in his own sanity. The antagonist of the film is played by Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter), who easily portrays the cool exterior and sinister intentions that personify the facility. The mysterious Hannah is played by Mia Goth (Nymphomaniac: Vol. II), who also does a great job with what she’s given.

In terms of story, the first parallel you may see is with Shutter Island. Both stories feature a sane man heading to an institution on business, only to uncover sinister secrets that make him question his own sanity. That’s honestly a very big parallel so I really can’t fault anyone for making it. That is, what I feel, the best part of the plot of A Cure for Wellness.

On that note, the running time for this particular movie is a long 146 minutes. I will say that I was enthused with it throughout that entire running time, but that enthusiasm was only with the story for the first half. After that, it was the performances that pulled me along.

There were many times where A Cure for Wellness could have ended. In the end, it chose to attempt answering the questions about the wellness center, and I can’t help but feel that this was a mistake. The film was much more compelling when the truths about the wellness center were a mystery. When they attempted solving that mystery, they made things far less believable and often illogical. I really had to suspend my disbelief. I won’t discuss these here because spoilers.

On this same note, the last half of A Cure for Wellness takes a dramatic turn toward shock value. It’s not for the faint of heart. On one side of this coin, you have body horror, and on the other side of that coin, you have rape and incest. In addition to this, there is lots of nudity, sexual themes, and a general feeling of dread. I often felt claustrophobic at times. If you’re a casual viewer, and not a fan of the genre, this may be too much for you. The film is definitely rated R for a reason.

A Cure for Wellness is definitely an experience. Despite the story flaws, I’m glad that I had a chance to see it in theaters, and I may even consider purchasing it upon its release. It’s visually stunning. The performances are great. It really nails the look and feel it was going for. Gore Verbinski has always been a director that takes chances, and this film is no different.

Check out the trailer below and see if you’ll want to experience it for yourself.

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