Sometimes a film comes around where you’re able to appreciate the craftsmanship that has gone in to it, and to acknowledge it’s a unique, accomplished piece of cinema – but that’s not to say you’ve particularly enjoyed the experience, nor have any intentions to go through it again. Gore Verbinski’s latest endeavour A Cure For Wellness is a film of that very nature, borrowing affectionately from the likes of The Shining to make for a feature that’s unlike anything else you’ll see this year.
Our story centres on Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) – a young executive with fire in his belly, who is found out to have partaken in fraud, and has only one option in evading punishment, which is to frame the company’s CEO. He’s therefore sent on a trip to save his career, to retrieve his boss from a wellness facility in the Swiss Alps. However upon his arrival, where he meets doctor Volmer (Jason Isaacs) – he is forced to prolong his visit having been involved in a car accident, and during this time he begins to appreciate all is not as it seems, with dark, deranged things going on in this centre, gravitating him towards Hannah (Mia Goth) who is the only other person he seems to have found to be his age.
Through thriving in its surrealistic approach, the film is grounded its comment on society, and particularly the mundanity of every day life, and the callous nature of the work place. Verbinski has presented a disturbingly visceral piece, as the viewer can see and feel every little thing – most notably the pain endured by the protagonist, having to navigate his way around this labyrinthine of a building with a broken leg, and we really feel every single wince. He’s a wonderful entry point into this world too, as Lockhart is an immensely flawed character we don’t actually like very much, and are constantly forced to question the sanity of.
It’s this ambiguity which is the film’s greatest selling point, as we can never judge whether the lead is losing his mind, or if he’s genuinely on to something – and the whole experience lingers on this very mystery. Sadly, however, when a film has such an elusive narrative it can often be in the finale where it loses its way, where we actually need some answers to the myriad of questions posed – and it’s here the film suffers, with an unfulfilling finale that doesn’t quite provide that closure we longed for.