by Meghan Duffy
The only thing worse than a bad movie is a bad movie that is only a few mistakes removed from being a great one. Sadly, A Cure for Wellness fits that bill right down to a T. Despite the beautiful visuals, great acting, and moments that truly shock the viewer, its length and predictable plot leave the moviegoer wishing they had spent their money elsewhere.
Astounding visuals don’t make astounding movies
To put it simply, A Cure for Wellness is an incredibly pretty film. The simple color palette, beautiful scenery, and impeccable casting make it a treat for the eyes. The movie is set in the beautiful Swiss alps and the film’s director, Gore Verbinski, utilized that setting to its fullest. To the film’s credit, every shot using the mountains cements the isolation of the setting that Verbinski was going for. That feeling of isolation is also helped along by how it feels like the world has stepped back in time. The mountains, wellness center, and small village below it all contrast the modernness of the opening scenes in a way that lets the viewer feel the isolation that the main character, Lockhart, must feel. It is in moments like those that A Cure for Wellness really has its success.
Even the visuals are not without fault in this movie, however. Towards the beginning of the film, there are inconsistencies with shots. A car gets egged in one shot, yet in the immediately following shots, it’s as if they had gone through a car wash. Shots can also linger for slightly too long, creating accidental humor. Although not the worst of this movie’s sins, these inconsistencies and uncomfortable lingering break immersion far too early on.
The plot thickens into a stodgy mess
…all of the great acting in the world couldn’t save A Cure for Wellness from its horrible script.
The moment any moviegoer should realize the trouble they’re in with this film is when they realize that it’s two and a half hours long. The fear of a movie that wastes time meandering instead of getting to any real point is fully realized with A Cure for Wellness. If Verbinski had cut out all of the shots of Lockhart glaring while slowly limping around the wellness center, the movie would be half an hour shorter. Yet instead of cutting those scenes, he kept them in along with other repetitive drivel. Instead of treating the viewer with any vestige of respect, Verbinski opts to instead slowly pound them in the face with the same three plot points until they have had enough.
The plot is completely riddled with holes. Instead of finding good explanations for the events in the film, it relies on what is essentially magic in order to patch the holes up. A viewer will leave the theater asking why the aquifer is so special? The aquifer has to be magic because there is never an explanation given in the film for the effects it has. Why are the wellness center guests unable to see what’s really happening? Well it must be that magic aquifer water because the film never truly addresses that. If the plot holes are covered by something besides magic, it’s never addressed nor is there a real explanation given.
Making things even worse, all of the great acting in the world couldn’t save A Cure for Wellness from its horrible script. The early stages of the film suffered especially badly from poorly written, but well preformed, lines. Characters talked in unnatural ways; perhaps it was an attempt to further cement the oddness of the setting. However, that failed as the lines became funnier rather than setting any real mood.
The mystery is actually why anybody would spend ten bucks on this film
For a mystery film, A Cure for Wellness does a pretty bad job of having any real mystery. Any viewer with two brain cells to rub together can figure out most of the film’s poorly executed twists and turns within the first 30 or so minutes of the movie. The only twists that a viewer might not get from the first part of the movie can usually end up being guessed due to heavy handed visual cues.
The lack of any real mystery is really quite disappointing. The atmosphere of the film is set up so well: the background characters speak German instead of English when walking around, and the set design beautifully accents the not-quite-right feeling of the wellness center. Yet despite the incredible atmosphere, any time something is going to play into the mystery Verbinski opts to light it up in a flashing neon sign. There is no subtlety at all in A Cure for Wellness. The shots linger onto important objects for too long as if Verbinski thinks that the viewer completely lacks intelligence, so he has to force them to stare at important things.
Every step of its overly long journey, A Cure for Wellness was so close to being a great movie. Although it had incredible acting and breathtaking visuals, its length, poor script, terrible plot, and horrific attempt at handling any sense of mystery set it miles back. If this movie were free, it would be worth a second watch for its visuals alone, but any good Kubrick film would be a better watch.
A Cure for Wellness
A Cure for Wellness comes incredibly close to being a good movie yet ultimately fails. Its astounding visuals and stellar casting were unable to make up for its complete trainwreck of a plot and the lack of any real mystery.