Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, Mia Goth, Ivo Nandi, Harry Groener
Director: Gore Verbinski
“An ambitious young executive is sent to retrieve his company’s CEO from an idyllic but mysterious ‘wellness center’ at a remote location in the Swiss Alps, but soon suspects that the spa’s treatments are not what they seem.” (IMDb)
What to Expect
Why You Should Watch It
The movie’s stunning shots of German and Swiss mountains, along with sparse attempts at black comedy in the beginning work to draw the viewer in. As the film goes on, it starts to feel more and more like an homage to Shutter Island: white clothes, a main character being forced to stay at a sanatorium against his will, and blurred lines between reality and imagination. DeHaan even looks a bit like Leo, especially as he creeps around a hidden cave at one point. It’s like Shutter Island fan fiction—but of course, much weirder.
Rainy Day Flick (C)
This film had me hooked from the trailer and I was thrilled to finally get my hands on it. The mystery! The intrigue! The weirdness! And then a hard left into an immortality cult led by an incestuous baron.
I admit, I admire the ending for its utter unpredictability. The rest of the film was so rife with psychological thriller tropes that “incestuous immortality cult” was definitely not where I was expecting things to go. But Lockhart’s (DeHaan) heroism hardly feels righteous in the end. We’re supposed to feel glad that he has escaped the castle, rejected his heartless corporate job, and rescued the childlike-yet-centuries-old girl in distress, but it falls flat. He was not a likeable person to begin with; the fact that he is morally above rape or drugging rich old people into a stupor isn’t enough to make the audience feel happy when he saves the day. Typically antiheroes still have their charms, but Lockhart is lacking.
Water is a major motif in this movie. Pembroke (Groener), the man Lockhart is tasked with fetching from the wellness center, says he has gone there “to take in the waters”—an outdated practice of bathing in certain waters in order to cure ailments. The orderlies are adamant about their clients drinking lots of water, and utilize aqua aerobics, steam rooms, pools, and sensory deprivation tanks as therapeutic methods. Hannah (Goth) was thrown into the water in her attempted infanticide, which was also where the magical eels were. The “vitamins” are also in liquid form.
A Cure for Wellness has a lot of holes. How did Lockhart escape from the dentist’s chair? How did he piece together that it was Hannah in the photograph? How does Hannah not notice that hundreds of years have passed and she’s barely aged? Does she know how normal aging works? Her being aware of her own immortality is doubtful as she wasn’t aware that Volmer (Isaacs) was the baron and also her father. And how exactly does force-feeding eels to someone in an iron lung work to squelch out these immortality vitamins? What is the deal with the eels?
Either way, as far as immortality cults go, I much prefer Death Becomes Her.