Gore Verbinski’s sumptuously mounted horror-thriller A Cure for Wellness plays like a cross between Shutter Island and The Cell but not nearly as great as those two pieces of work, with various props borrowed from the bunker set on TV’s Lost (I don’t ever want to be reminded of that show again). As I expected, the film looks utterly ridiculous on nearly every aesthetic level; the lavish production design, ugly-beautiful art direction, and blue-green hued cinematography (Bojan Bazelli is an extremely underrated shooter) are the clear stars of the show; I can’t believe that the reported budget is $40 million because this film looks like it cost $150 million.
But I didn’t care about the characters, the film was unnecessarily long, the final act is a total mess, and there are so many moment-to-moment lapses in common sense and general logic that I couldn’t get fully invested in the storytelling. Screenwriter Justin Haythe (Revolutionary Road, The Lone Ranger) has done wonderful work in the past and I’m sure he’ll do wonderful work in the future, but this one felt cluttered and oddly misshapen, with one of the most eye-rolling coincidental meet-ups by a group of characters that I can remember seeing.
Which is a shame and a surprise, because I’ve always felt that with each film Verbinski has released, he’s been able to firmly meld his unique narrative sensibility to his spellbinding visual style. But with A Cure for Wellness, there was something missing outside of his usual technical prowess. Oh, and it’s absolutely absurd how much Dane DeHaan looks like Leonardo DiCaprio. It’s distracting, to be honest. Overall, this is a big disappointment for me as a viewer, but on a purely photographic and superficial level, it’s certainly qualifies as supreme eye candy. Eels!
Review by Nic Clement