A Cure for Wellness Review: The Cure We Deserve
Spoiler alert: A Cure for Wellness is better than The Lone Ranger! While I know that statement is as useful as comparing a pile of cow manure to something greater, A Cure for Wellness is yet another surprise from the early months of 2017. Now, I must attest, this is not your average Hollywood movie that you and your pals are going to have a fun time watching. This is a film that will divide audiences; some will adore the film calling it a masterpiece, others will think it’s pretentious garbage. While A Cure for Wellness may not be perfect, it is exactly what cinema needs right now.
A Cure follows Lockhart, (Dane DeHann) a young, ambitious, rude and self-centered executive for a major Wall Street firm. He is sent to retrieve the company’s CEO from a mysterious “wellness center” from a remote location in the Swiss Alps. From the moment of Lockhart’s arrival, he suspects that this wellness centers founder, who uses a “miracle treatment,” may have serious motives that lack human will, ethics, and logic altogether. It isn’t long until Lockhart goes from visitor to patient, with harsh consequences.
Let me get this out of the way, A Cure for Wellness is one of the most gorgeous looking films in recent memory. The cinematography by Bojan Bazelli is aesthetically stunning, making even the most simplistic of shots look incredible. The shot when Lockhart first see’s Hannah (Mia Goth) standing on top of a bridge is mesmerizing, meshing together seamlessly with Benjamin Wallfisch’s eerie and transcendent score. From the moment A Cure for Wellness starts, the immersive score and visuals pull you outside of reality, and into the mind of Gore Verbinski.
The first act is a bit tough to get through. The tone, dialogue and deadpan delivery from some of the actors involved are going to be jarring for most audiences. I admit while these first 30 minutes played out on screen, I was thinking “wow this is going to be terrible”. Luckily that all changed once Lockhart first arrives at the wellness center, which itself looks fantastic. The backdrop of the Swiss Alps along with the all white outfits these patients wear is both parts creepy and lovely.
Dane Dehann gives a credible performance as the egotistical Lockhart. Dehann has always been a great talent, who unfortunately has been typecasted since his star stunning performance in Chronicle. While he still shows some elements of a troubled young man with a tragic past, he has a lot to do in this role. A hard thing to achieve is making a protagonist unlikable, disgusting even, and still have you root for him as he changes in small increments throughout a story. The transformation isn’t overnight, which is admirable considering how much of a jerk Lockhart continues to be for a majority of the two hour and twenty-six minute runtime. What compensates for an unlikeable character, is a thought-provoking script with a layered mystery to boot.
Jason Issacs is haunting as the mysterious Dr. Volmer. I’ve always been a fan of Issacs, and this may be one of his best performances to date. Volmer is unpredictable, charming and terrifying all at the same time. His arch with the equally as mysterious Hannah is the high point of the story. As the film progresses, small layers start to peel back between both of their backstories. They are the mystery at the core of the movie, with Lockhart being the vessel that gets us to the twist and turns that develop throughout.
The dialogue, along with the foreshadowing can be a bit too on-the-nose at some points, especially in the film’s first hour. This results in some scenes riddled with exposition, leaving the mysteries not so mysterious. Some of the twists you can see a mile away, while others will rip the rug from under you and leave you speechless. The first hour would’ve been stronger if Dane Dehann played a more likable character, or with Hannah and Volmer having more to do.
That being said, the second and third acts of A Cure for Wellness make up for that convoluted first hour with some of the most impressive, insane and remarkable storytelling in recent memory. Some of you will love it, some of you will loathe it, but there is no denying the amount of creativity and passion that went into this unique gem.
A Cure for Wellness opens February 17th, 2017