I hope you’re thinking about the title of this film? If you just read it and don’t think about it, you just think it’s a movie title, like any other movie title. But think about it: A Cure For Wellness. It’s the cure for being well. Odd right? Wait till you see the film.
A Cure For Wellness stars Dane DeHaan (Chronicle, The Amazing Spider-Man 2) as Lockhart, an ambitious young exec. sent to retrieve his companies CEO from an idyllic wellness centre at a remote location in the Swiss Alps. He must return with his CEO as quickly as possible to ensure an important merger that’s going through, happens – it can’t without the CEO’s signature. However, Lockhart soon discovers that not everything is as it seems at the retreat.
We must talk about the good of this film first. The directing by Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Rango) is just an absolute masterclass. The shot selection, the movement, the framing, everything is just wonderful. It adds to the movie and really shows how a director can make a movie.
Dane DeHaan is great as Lockhart, despite a rather-ropey Keanu Reeves-esq accent he’s attempting, he handles the changes his character encounters with aplomb. Heading up the wellness centre is Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter series, Black Hawk Down) as Volmer. The man credited by everyone at the centre as administering ‘the cure’ – though no-one really seems to know, or ask, what ‘the cure’ is.
Whilst most at the centre tend to be in their ‘advanced years’, Hannah, played by Mia Goth (Nymphomaniac: Vol. II, Wallander), is the exception. A young girl who refers to herself as a ‘special case’, yet she can’t actually say what’s wrong with her or when she might be cured.
So, directing is wonderful, acting is top draw, you may be expecting me to continue to gush? Well, I’d love to, I really would, sadly however, this movie is let down by a fundamental problem: the story, which is written, with Verbinski, by Justin Haythe (The Lone Ranger, Revolutionary Road). Now, I don’t ever try and ‘guess’ or ‘predict’ an outcome to a story. So, if the outcome does present itself to me early on, I know we’ve got a problem and it’s far too obvious.
A Cure For Wellness, at some two-hours and twenty minutes, is far too long. It feels too long as, quite quickly, you know what’s happening and you can guess where it’s all going. It really is very obvious. From the moment you know what’s going on, our protagonist Mr. Lockhart, still seems oblivious, and this makes things very frustrating. You feel like you’re always two-steps ahead of him whilst you’re watching him flounder.
This means the final, almost, hour and a half of the movie is really quite painful to watch. It feels slow. There are some movie clichés which begin to raise their ugly head. And the ‘reveal’ at the end involving Isaacs and DeHaan just turns the film into ridiculousness.
This is such a shame as the first hour of the film is truly magnificent. It’s a tour-de-force in directing, a masterclass, it’s beautiful and effortless to watch. But it’s a yin and yang movie. With the nice you must also take the pain and the pain comes in at the length of some other movies in total. I have to be honest, I’m not sure it’s worth it.