A Cure for Wellness Review: Are You Well?
A Cure for Wellness tells the story of Lockhart (Dane DeHaan), an up and coming young man in the stock market world, tasked with traveling to Switzerland. Lockhart is sent to retrieve one of the CEOs who is currently “on vacation.” Once Lockhart arrives at what he is told is a spa, he quickly realizes it is a sanitarium and no ordinary one at that. After a few encounters with various staff and the head doctor, Volmer (Jason Isaacs), he begins to question what is happening at the sanitarium. In the sanitarium, he meets Hannah (Mia Goth), a young woman who lives there. Her ties to the Institute as well as the institute itself are muddled and shrouded in mystery. What he encounters there will shake him to his very core and bring into question his entire life and even his sanity.
A Cure for Wellness is the surprise film of the year. It is a visual marvel and masterpiece that is awe-inducing. The film is set in the Swiss Alps, the scenes in the film are inspiring. What the film truly excels in is the ability to create an atmosphere, unlike any other film you’ve seen. The visuals are impeccable and do well to further many of the themes and symbolism in the film. Verbinski has an eye for beauty, and it is very apparent in this film. Some scenes are almost surreal such as the scene where Hannah is walking on the edge of the water, and the reflection of the sky in the water and her walking was just perfection. Verbinski uses the visual elements and intertwines them so well with the perfect music to create an otherworldly atmosphere. The music is almost reminiscent of Danny Elfman’s Edward Scissorhands. It has a beauty and a mystery to it. Working in tandem with the visual elements, the music works to weave an atmosphere from which you can’t escape. The film is engrossing, and it pulls you in, almost like a lullaby, soothing you into complacency. The film presents the ideas of sickness and wellness in ways you anticipate; the idea of the mind fooling the body. It brings in the idea of some self-reflection as well.
The performances in the film are phenomenal. Dane DeHaan is incredible with the perfect mix of wild insanity and determination. Jason Isaacs has found his niche with starring in The OA and then this film, I think people will fear him when he walks down the street. Mia Goth plays her character perfectly, with an unbridled innocence that is remarkably well performed.
While there are a thousand things I could say I liked about the film, there are a few detriments that I would be remiss for not mentioning. The length of the film at two hours and twenty-six minutes is relatively long for many people. I didn’t much feel the length of it, but I know others did. There are also portions in the film where I think may have gone too far for American audiences. I believe that foreign films tackle many taboo topics that American films do not. This film, in a way, felt much like that. I think it will deter some people from seeing it.
A Cure for Wellness is a complicated, beautiful, and bizarre film. The visual elements, music, and storytelling work together to weave an atmosphere that sucks you in from the very first scene. The performances are inspired, and the direction by Verbinski is top-notch. A Cure for Wellness will inspire, shock, appall and engage you. It will leave you speechless and you will beg to watch it again.