Spoilers remind you to drink water often.
I have been longing for great cinematography and I read a review on this film. This is one of those features considered to prioritize style over substance, but still holds as a decent psychological thriller. I can see how a lot of people will think it’s all looks, but I must admit to have found myself quite entertained. That’s not to say the film doesn’t have its flaws in the plot department, but I’m willing to give it a pass considering the amount of visual achievements to be found combined with a couple of strong performances.
A Cure for Wellness (2016) was directed by Gore Verbinski who also wrote it with Justin Haythe. It follows a young stockbroker named Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) that gets sent to a remote wellness retreat center in the Swiss Alps with the intention of bringing back the CEO of his company, who has sent a letter expressing his intention of not coming back. It’s not a dark comedy, although I wonder if that angle would have added something to the story. All in all, I’m glad the serious tone was kept during the film as it does manage to keep a reasonable level of suspense without having to resort to cheap jumpscares.
Lockhart soon finds that he will get nothing out of asking politely, and he’s not really trying too hard. Director Volmer (Jason Isaacs) seems to be making him run in circles before he answers his questions. Soon enough, Lockhart ends up having a car accident heading back to town and wakes up with a broken leg, now becoming a patient of the sanitarium. A little ambiguity goes a long way, and it does pay a lot to have our main character not be sure if he sees what he think he’s seeing.
As he gets acquainted with the eccentricities of the center, he meets a young girl named Hannah (Mia Goth) who seems afflicted by some condition. This is where I wished the filmmakers would’ve imbued Hannah’s character with some agency. She’s part of the plot, but still things mostly happen to her – she rarely causes them to happen. She does get to affect the story eventually, but it does feel like a token coup-de-grace.
I wished we would have been rewarded with the full puzzle reveal. The story’s finale is a workable one, albeit a bit weak. There’s some plot holes left open where some hints were dropped and never addressed again. The performances are adequate for the most part although some of the secondary characters are a bit one-note and caricaturesque. Combine this with the color palette and steampunk look of the some sets and you almost get a Burton-esque feature. Fortunately Verbinski does work his movie to a conclusion, serviceable but with a rather light bite.
Highly recommended for visuals, ambiance, setup and cinematography. The performances are not awful, the plot is mostly decent even if certain aspects are presented and never developed or resolved. It’s an amazing film to look at, and the characters are engaging enough. I did enjoy some of the mystery, even if certain clues are not followed upon. If you ever saw it back in the day, I would recommend a second viewing. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a great looking psychological thriller that does carry its main plot to a conclusion.
That will do for now.