SEMO AT THE MOVIES: A Cure For Wellness

There’s nothing like that feeling of being truly, sorely, deeply, sadly, and maddeningly disappointed. From relationships to careers, sometimes life has a habit of letting us down brutally, rather than gently.

A Cure For Wellness is a case in point. We’ve been looking forward to Gore Verbinski’s dark and moody psychological thriller for so long it’s hard to remember a time when we weren’t waiting for it to arrive at the big screen. Unfortunately, though, like looking back on that first date- when you had an inkling of what may come, but later found it’s not what you wanted- we can’t help but wish we’d left things at the trailer stage and not got involved.

OK, so it’s not an awful movie really. It looks stunning- well-considered aesthetics, colors and lighting as oppose to by numbers or merely functional. But that’s also its undoing, one of the reasons it makes you so irritated. Everything about this should be great, but somehow it just isn’t that great at all. Well, actually, not somehow , we know exactly why it’s not that great- some one decided to play down to the audience.

If you’re unaware, the plot basically centers on Dane DeHaan, who plays a Wall Street hot shot caught with his hand in the cookie jar, and forced to trek out to the Swiss Alps to bring back his company’s CEO, who has basically moved into a madhouse, run by the inmates. His other option being a career-ending sacking, and obviously that won’t do when you have his level of ambition.

Off he trundles, then, to central Europe’s most beautiful corner, and there he discovers the imposing ‘wellness retreat’- apparently inspired by Bram Stoker’s Dracula – and the man in charge, who hardly convinces you the place is innocent. Even his name, Dr. Heinrich Volmer (by Jason Isaacs), sounds like someone who should be held up for war crimes. Many of the residents (read: captives) appear to have been here for far too long, and have completely lost the plot, with the treatments on offer far from conventional.

Sadly things go from bad to worse for DeHaan when he discovers his elusive boss isn’t really up for leaving. One car crash later and the lad is himself hauled up in bed with a broken leg, meaning the attending staff can really get to work on him. What follows is perhaps comparable to Shutter Island , only with none of the subtle unease or menace- just wham, bam, let’s ensure the viewers don’t miss this clue, m’am.

It’s a crying shame- comparisons to Shutter Island  are scarcely that relevant, but in this case the way that line between hallucinatory and waking nightmares tries to blur it’s an obvious one to make. Annoyingly, you never get to the point where you can’t work out which is which, though, with signposting throughout obvious enough for a cat to grasp the overall end game relatively early on. All style, no brains makes everyone in this office bored, if not dull, and marks this as the first massive let down of 2017, despite the fundamental themes- the relentlessness of U.S. working hours, its impact on people, dishonesty to cover up for obsession- being fully deserving of screen time.

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