DIRECTOR: Gore Verbinski
CAST: Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, Mia Goth
It is an exceedingly rare thing for me to proactively write a negative review for a movie I am not even obligated to review. But A CURE FOR WELLNESS from director Gore Verbinski (the overrated Pirates of the Caribbean and the underrated The Lone Ranger, not to mention The Ring) feels like one of the worst, most grievously unnecessary films I have ever seen.
The movie is a bumper sticker disguised as profundity. It’s two-and-a-half hours of insubstantial style – as opposed to style of substance, as with, for example, Tarsem Singh’s thriller The Cell, cerebral in more ways than one. A CURE FOR WELLNESS is a faux-intellectual gilded turd, pretentious and hollow, whose only good scenes (all of two or three, I think) deserve to be in a better movie.
The film fancies itself terribly profound and mysterious. Ugh. In fact, behind all its symbolism is the most simplistic message …
A spoiler is forthcoming. Fear not, You won’t read it unless you choose to. I’ll get to that in a sec.
I should clarify that by “spoiler” I mean revealing a trite moral-of-the-story that makes even the simple truths of Aesop seem like the complex sublimity of the Bhagavad Gita.
I am NOT a Michael Medved, who, as far as I’m concerned, lost his movie critic badge when he deliberately spoiled the ending of Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby for tons of film followers, just out of spite because the film’s denouement disagreed with his neo-conservative ethics.
I’m not picking at the politics of A CURE FOR WELLNESS. I am aiming at its hardly hidden secret decked out in a technicolor dreamcoat. I am pointing to this movie’s utter failure as a work of art. Highlight the space below if you want to go ahead and know now the film’s big secret message (which you will figure out well before any of the idiots in the movie).
A CURE FOR WELLNESS’ “profound” meaning be summed up in a three- or four-word sentence; it boils down to the assertion that capitalism and/or big pharma is bad. Yep. That’s it.
It makes no difference if one agrees with Verbinski’s opinions on economics and politics or not. What matters is the pretense and pomposity of an artpiece that trumpets its Gordian depths when there’s nothing but a slipknot holding all its nothing together. If A CURE FOR WELLESS was a Tootsie Roll Pop you’d NEVER get to the center of it – because there is no center.
It’s empty inside.
It’s a whitewashed sepulcher without even a corpse.
All the supposed mystery is really just lousy sleight of hand, too clumsy to hide the fact that this is a tempest in a teapot, much ado about nothing, an idiot tale full of sound and fury but signifying nothing. It’s more clichéd than that last sentence.
The numbing banality of A CURE FOR WELLNESS’ shallow secrets is as unforgiveable as its arrogance in presuming the obviousness of its great truths. I don’t care what one thinks about the movie’s viewpoint, it’s the attitude. This is a bathtub that thinks it’s an Olympic pool.
What the film smugly believes to be deep mystery is nothing more than an arbitrary array of dull symbolism and weird happenings.
A CURE FOR WELLNESS is all smoke and mirrors. There’s no cohesion weaving these disparate forms of deliberate obfuscation into a tight-knit tapestry. It’s all loose pieces floating around. And yet all of this artificial opacity still can’t hide the fact that the emperor has no clothes – or, rather, that there are only fancy clothes with no emperor inside.
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