By Shelby Fielding (Lubbock, Texas, US)
A Cure for Wellness: A Visually Immaculate Film with a Unique Narrative
Directed by the visual adept known as Gore Verbinski, A Cure for Wellness is the immaculate visual experience of an exploring narrative that is filled with ambiguity and an overwhelming amount of exposition. With quintessential shot design, frame design, cinematography, and editing leading the way on this thrilling ride supplied with ingenuity. A Cure for Wellness surprised me with its incredible endeavor for a visually captivating film that also provides an original narrative that weaves a story that is composed of eeriness, obscurity, vulgarity, and unconventional methods to divulge this narrative to an audience. A Cure for Wellness story focuses on a young, ambitious executive named Lockhart who is persuaded to venture to a Sanatorium in the Swiss Alps to find the CEO of the stock market company he works for called Pembroke. Where he then discovers that this idyllic but mysterious wellness center may not be what it seems.
A Cure for Wellness is a film and screenplay that is arranged with different as well as inventive aspects to create something that is distinctly different from the normality of production in filmmaking today. This unorthodox method is how the narrative is built and produced. The film has a very slow pacing that constructs upon itself the further the run time lasts. The inherently seamless weave between time periods is also very unconventional in my opinion, due to the rapid transition from present day to flashback is almost incomprehensible. This editing could be seen a fundamental flaw, but for me, the fast transitions reflected the personality of the character. In how Lockhart is a man that lives in a world without patience and that he as a character focuses on things ahead of him than behind him. That’s why these transitions to the past on not giving more fluid or paced out transitions to place importance on this previous life event that not only serves as a narrative expansion but also acts as a character proliferation that provides relatability along with familiarity.
As I divulged at the beginning of this review, the visual aspects of this film are nearly flawless. The shot design, frame placement, color selection, digital composition, editorial choices, and cinematography are impeccable. Every single scene looks so crisp and fluid from not only the camera movement but also how the color choices almost reflect this eeriness that is fundamental to the film’s tone. The narrative is also composed of this fluidity in my opinion, especially in how the narrative continues to divulge its motivations without compromising its conclusion. This screenplay could be a frustrating for some viewers due to the overwhelming sense of exploration being directly applied to the tone and narrative of the film. The 146 minute run time of A Cure for Wellness is entirely occupied with the exploration of this wellness center and its many secrets. Which for some could be seen as frustrating or not entrancing in its intriguement and relativity to the narrative.
However, for me, it was utterly enticing in how the story continuously kept me guessing and fascinated with learning the reasoning for why these horrific events are taking place at this visually compelling sanatorium that lacks in benevolency. Such as how when Lockhart continuously learns about how and why these events are taking place, he only learns little by little. Almost forcing the audience to consistently allure the viewer to focus on connecting the jigsaw puzzle pieces of the motive for these horrendous events. Dane DeHaan provides a reliable performance as well as Jason Isaacs and Mia Goth. But, the performances are not what holds this movie together instead it is the original methods used to captivate the viewer. The focus of the flaws of A Cure for Wellness center around pacing and length. This film is a thriller/horror genre that has a runtime of 2 hours and 26 minutes. This run time is almost radical in a sense, but since the majority of the run time is focused on providing expansion upon the exposition of the narrative the run time feels necessary. For me, I feel as if at least 30 minutes could have been cut off, but it also leads me to second guess that decision due to the focus on the internal reasoning for why everything is taking place. The pacing can be seen as captivating at times, but I feel as if it reflects the tone of the film in how it is constantly a sense of eeriness and second guessing of your sanity. The pacing could have been more intriguing to see with a little bit of a faster pacing to portray a stronger sense of intensity in the film’s narrative.
A Cure for Wellness depicts an unusual and original story that takes 146 minutes to divulge its motivations and characters in full complexity. The continuous second guessing of why these events are taking place can create this sense of confusion for the viewer. Not confusion in the trouble you have in understanding the narrative, but instead confusion in if you as a viewer truly comprehend what’s going on or are you just as lost as our main character. Almost making you question your sanity that requires a cure that only the conclusion of A Cure for Wellness can provide.
Voice: There is a sickness inside us rising, like the bile that leaves that bitter taste at the back of our throats. It’s there in every one of you seated around the table. Only when we know what ails us can we hope to find cure.
[after reading letter from their company’s CEO]
Deputy Director: What do you make of that?
Lockhart: Clearly he’s lost his mind.
Mr. Wilson: Our thoughts exactly.