I avoided watching A Cure for Wellness for quite some time. Lately I’ve had a problem with torture scenes in films, and, after seeing the previews, I thought this movie would have way too many of those moments for my taste. It surprised me – most of the scenes I dreaded were in the last half hour, and some of those were over-the-top.
The film, directed by Gore Verbinski, would have benefited from having a ruthless editor with a sharp implement (at least in the old days). It needed roughly thirty minutes cut from its running time of two and a half hours.
Somewhat Gothic and old-fashioned, it reminded me of the movies my mother liked to watch from the 1960s. There’s a gloomy atmosphere throughout, which dampens what ordinarily would be considered stunning scenery.
Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) is a financial wiz kid who cheats in order to climb the ladder. After being confronted by his superiors, he is forced to travel to Switzerland to retrieve his crooked boss, Pembroke, from a wellness facility and return him to New York to face the authorities. The task will be much harder than he thinks. (It’s like that song “Hotel California” – you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.)
It’s easy to dislike Lockhart at first. But everyone has a past (and a childhood) that shapes them, and we gradually learn why he became the cynical young man he is today. He’s not about to fall for the rhetoric he hears from the staff and the sanatorium’s Director (Jason Isaacs with a German accent).
Pembroke doesn’t want to cooperate with his employee either, but before Lockhart can force the issue, he is involved in a car accident that makes him a patient at the castle-like facility. He has plenty of time to wander around and get into trouble, learning the dark history of the mountain-top fortress and befriending the teenage daughter (Mia Goth) of the Director, much to the doc’s dismay.
By the time Lockhart meets the mysterious teen girl, Hannah, I had already figured out all the twists and turns the plot would take. (Perhaps that’s one reason the film seemed too lengthy to me.)
Dane DeHaan is perfect for the role of Lockhart, and the entire cast is exemplary. My biggest complaint with the film is that it doesn’t go anywhere I haven’t seen before and it takes too long to get to the predictable conclusion.
For those reasons, I can only give it two out of five goblins.