This week saw the release of Gore Verbinski's visual masterpiece, A CURE FOR WELLNESS, on Blu-ray and DVD. Having been one of my favorite films of the year, I was excited to delve into all the special features as well as re-watch a film that has stayed with me since I first viewed it.
A CURE FOR WELLNESS is one of those movies that will affect audiences in one of two ways. It's a polarizing film and it requires dedication and attention to make it through the 2-1/2 hour runtime. However, it's a film that is uniquely beautiful and unlike any other film that is currently out in theaters. Films such as A CURE FOR WELLNESS are typically the type you would see doing the film festival circuit, so it was definitely a risk on behalf of 20th Century Fox to release it. Regardless of how the film does, regardless of if people hate it, to many of us this will be one of the most extraordinary films to come out this year.
A CURE FOR WELLNESS, directed by Gore Verbinski (The Ring), stars Dane DeHaan (Chronicle), Mia Goth (Nymphomaniac: Vol II) and Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter series). The film centers around Lockhart (DeHaan), an ambitious, yet young, executive who has been ordered to retrieve his company's CEO from a mysterious "wellness center" in Switzerland. While there, Lockhart beings to learn that no one ever wants to leave this idyllic paradise for they believe they have found "the cure"; however, the cure could be the one thing that could destroy them all.
What really makes this film so fascinating is the storyline. To be able to have one that keeps the story moving along at a consistent pace is rare, but in the case of A CURE FOR WELLNESS, it’s pulled off almost flawlessly. Though there were moments in the film, mostly towards the end, where the storyline became a bit convoluted and confusing, the writers made sure to steer the ship back so as to have the story come full circle. If there was any advice I could give the viewers about this film, it would be to not take it at face value. Sure, on the surface it would seem as though this film is highlighting the minute struggles of the wealthy, but the story is so much more than that. In the end it’s about achieving the unachievable goal of youth and vitality. Most people don’t ever want to come to terms with death, especially their own, so they will go out of their way to try almost anything to gain that back. What this film does so well, is it shines a light on the notion that money can’t purchase everything and death, eventually, is inevitable.
When it comes to the acting, Dane DeHaan is spectacular. Having been a fan of his since I saw Chronicle, I was particularly excited to watch this movie because of his involvement. Though his character is arrogant and cocky, throughout the film you see the layers of his persona peel off to expose the hurt and pain that’s harboring itself deep inside of him. As someone who has had issues with their father, his character reminded me of myself and the outlook that I have towards my dad. Mia Goth, who plays Hannah, was exquisite. It was as though she was born to play this role and I can’t imagine any other actress taking the lead. She has a quiet innocence, but when tested, is able to find her own voice. Jason Isaac is damn near perfection in his role as head doctor of the wellness facility and if there is one thing I love about Jason Isaac it’s his ability to play characters with which the audience loves to hate.
As for the location of the film, it was absolutely dreamlike, as the film was shot in Germany at the Castle Hohenzollern. I’m not even going to lie, if I wanted to go to a wellness center this would be the one that I would want to go too. The castle is glorious as it shines in the sunlight along with pops of green and blue colors that separate the moments of sterile whiteness which become a running theme throughout the film. However, what really makes this film beautiful is the cinematography and art direction. The framing of some of the shots are dramatic and stunning with unique color palettes. There were many times during the film that I turned to my friend next to me and stated how much I would love to attend a place such as this. Though there are sinister motives in the film, and the wellness center is clearly not what is expected, the visuals made me yearn to go to a place such as that for some rest and relaxation.
As for the horror aspect of the film, I think viewers will be surprised with what lies ahead. It’s definitely not a classic horror movie, however, it reminded me of the beauty and gore that inhabited The Neon Demon combined with the mystery and set design of The Phantom of the Opera. If you are looking for a film that will give you jump scares, this is definitely not that film, however, it will burrow its way under your skin and leave you feeling uncomfortable and disturbed. There was even a few moments where I had a hard time watching was happening on the screen. If you have a fear of the dentist, be forewarned, that fear is going to rear it’s ugly head.
Overall, A CURE FOR WELLNESS is a film that’s not going to be everybody’s cup of tea, but a film that everyone should experience at least once. With terrific performances, fantastical and disturbing storytelling and visuals that are eye popping and beautiful, A CURE FOR WELLNESS is going to be unlike anything else you see in the theaters this year. Just remember, the film is much more than what it appears, so I urge you to look past all the glitz and glamour to really identify the meat of the story. If symbolism is something that you love to uncover in a film, than you will enjoy the symbolic nature that is referenced throughout the entire film. All in all, I look forward to seeing more films of this nature coming out of major studios in the future.
A CURE FOR WELLNESS is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD from 20th Century Fox.