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Demented Beauty in "A Cure for Wellness"

By Spencer Coile 

We have successfully reached that lull in the film year, where many of us are playing catch-up with the films we weren't able to see earlier in the year. It is both daunting and exciting. There is so much to see, but sometimes, a film will come along and take our breath away -- in scope, in storytelling, in its sheer visual spectacle. Perhaps it is a mix of everything. 

Gore Verbinski's A Cure for Wellness is not a perfect movie. Its characters are paper-thin, the twists and turns oftentimes feel haphazard, and the writing leaves much to be desired in the suspense department. However, as I caught up with the critically divided feature, I couldn't help but be swept up into this world that Verbinski created. In many ways, it is so different from anything I have seen this year that it was easy to forgive and forget some of the film's flaws, because it is so beautiful. And rather than dive into a critique about the movie and nitpick everything it does wrong, it might be more beneficial to share with you some of the film's most elegantly shot moments -- to demonstrate the sheer artistry taking place. 

A film drenched in dread and mystery, A Cure for Wellness employs Bojan Bazelli as director of photography and four-time Oscar nominee Eve Stewart as production designer. While Wellness is completely bleak throughout its 146 minute long run-time, Bazelli and Stewart manage to invoke a gothic mood to this absurd world that Verbinski has crafted. Utilizing place and space in ways unexplored in 2017 thus far, it is shocking that these qualities to the film have all but been forgotten (I mean, that shot of the train jettisoning down the tracks as it nears the tunnel is breathtaking). Sure, the film was not universally admired by critics and audiences, but that is not because of the lush set pieces and the unique framing of each scene. 

There is something fascinating lurking beneath the surface to A Cure for Wellness. And even if the story does not resonate with you (after all, how many films this year alone use the death of a loved one as means of explaining characters' actions?), there is still something to behold in the storytelling in this twisted and haunting account of madness and hysteria. 

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Reader Comments (4)

I discovered this at home like Get Out and loved it and yes what a beauty of a film.

July 9, 2017 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

The click-tap, click-tap sound design as DeHaan wanders the maze of steam rooms was worth the entry price alone.

July 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBJT

I really loved this film, it's the Crimson Peak of 2017. Even those who don't like it should appreciate the fact that a major movie studio even put something as weird and unconventional as this out.

July 9, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterthefilmjunkie

I think the deliriously bonkers, go-for-broke execution of so much of the second half got me over how awfully it was all foreshadowed for what felt like the previous 90 minutes. It's a pretty weird slog, then it's suddenly the most deliciously mad thing I've seen in 2017. This is a great article and I hope it and all us commenters get people to catch up on it.

July 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNick T

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