I have been waiting 3 months to watch “A cure for wellness”. And it’s been worth it…to some extend.
This movie is really an original story about 3 different topics – workaholism, egocentrism and family. Interestingly enough we follow those themes in three narratives – personal, professional and historic.
But before speaking about story and characters, I have to stress out how many other valuable sides this art piece has. First of all – the scenery, landscape and background of the events is majestic. The haunted spa/sanatorium among splendid nature views is the perfect set for this fantastic horror drama. Also you should know that some of the filming locations are also spooky in real life (example: Beelitz Sanatorium).
Also, the music is a nice addition to the moody feeling coming from this movie.
But mostly I was impressed by the cinematography. Almost every shot’s perspective and angle was perfect for me. We see the story through all kinds of visual points. And it makes more involved in the film overall. Excellent positioning of the takes and precise length of each movement of the camera. This for me is very important as we tend to see it less and less in modern cinema.
As for the actors and play – they were all splendid. From DeHaan’s first cocky and later frantic acts to each of Volmer institute’s staff members who expressed precisely the radiation of fanatic followers – it was all unexpectedly beautiful and impressive. Mia Goth and Jason Isaacs of course are the other two main characters who provide an unsettling background to our main character. As a person who has some contact with German culture, I’d like to express how on point was the feel of weird perfection coming out of this supposed sanatorium.
Let’s now focus on the story. I had some feedback before the movie, so I expected a turn of events more in the direction of workaholism and modern societal anxiety. But I found out the movie to influence me more on a personal level. Although the “A cure for wellness” focuses mainly on the fantastic history of the place and people who own it, I was touched by the concrete stand this art piece took on the influence of professional competitiveness and ambition on the personal and family life of each individual.
Also I have to point out the perfect beginning scene in this film. It represents for me the whole idea behind this grinning movie. Although it’s an over 2 hour long piece, to me it doesn’t drag at all. I wanted to find answers all the way, all the time. Some of them were left unanswered by the end of it, but still it was a demanding and obsessive experience.
So, back to the story – a corporate hunt mingles with personal tragedy and historic fantastic elements. The body horror part of this movie I leave to the fans of such things. I just wanna say that it was bloody impressive and stressful. Which is a good thing for this genre. And although the film turns to the fantastic madcap performances towards the third act, I will remember it mostly for the iconic first and second parts.
The main character is an unscrupulous professional who’s only family turns out to be his work. I was deeply impressed when the staff at the sanatorium asked De Haan’s character for a personal contact and he referenced only his office (having lost both his father and mother). Not only that this is a great set up for his confrontation with the main villain in this story, but also connects with the audience through an subconscious level. I personally prefer to take in this film as a wink to the influence which hard work and painful ambition has on personal and family life. History knows not only real life creepy spas, but more importantly broken lives of many families. So Verbinski’s goal is clear here.
The movie is clearly entertaining and captivating on many levels and I truly recommend it to all drama and horror fans. But as always I try to take out as many personal and long term conclusions from a movie. And this art piece is rich with meaningful messages and great character examples. Visually stunning work which is irresistibly obsessive with its lovecraftian way of saying “keep your mind at work, but leave your heart always at home”.