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With: Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, Mia Goth, Celia Imrie, Adrian Schiller, Harry Groener, Johannes Krisch, Magnus Krepper
Written by: Justin Haythe, based on a story by Haythe and Gore Verbinski
Directed by: Gore Verbinski
MPAA Rating: R for disturbing violent content and images, sexual content including an assault, graphic nudity, and language
Running Time: 146
Date: 02/17/2017

A Cure for Wellness (2017)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

'Cure' Shot

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Gore Verbinski's A Cure for Wellness seems to have very little to do with either a cure or wellness.

It contains freaky, disturbing images that, at best, will earn the movie a cult following — with viewers daring each other to survive it — but at worst, will make them wish they could unsee what they have seen.

Verbinski's tenth feature film, A Cure for Wellness tries to squish all his career tendencies — garish excess (the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels), the grotesque (Rango), and the occasional concern for the human condition (The Weather Man) — into one hulking 146-minute package.

Additionally, he supplies enough squirmy, slippery eels to induce nightmares for weeks.

Dane DeHaan stars as Lockhart, a young, newly-promoted American executive. For his first task, he must travel to a "wellness center" in the Swiss Alps, to retrieve a missing CEO and get him to sign some important papers.

Lockhart finds the task not as simple as he expects; he survives a brutal car crash and wakes up with his leg in a cast. The director of the clinic, Dr. Heinrich Volmer (Jason Isaacs), decides that he'd like to keep the anemic-looking fellow there for a while.

The new patient begins sneaking around, finding more and more weird, sinister little clues about what might really be going on at this seemingly innocent place, which, he learns, was built over a special source of water.

He meets the clinic's only patient under thirty, Hannah (Mia Goth), stumbles upon some forbidden rooms, and wonders what's making that rattling, thumping noise in his toilet tank.

The building, the surrounding grounds, and the nearby roads and towns (and especially an amazing saloon with an ornate ceiling) give Verbinski plenty to play with, visually as well as aurally.

On his squeaky crutches, Lockhart sneaks through cavernous, echoey corridors, occasionally stumbling into rooms with sinister sources of light, or things floating in jars.

But A Cure for Wellness lacks discipline and clarity. It goes too far, eventually repeating itself. Poor Lockhart finds himself in some kind of showdown every 15 minutes or so, and each new discovery serves to muddy the one that came before it.

In the end, the movie seems to say that in the end, CEOs, board meetings, and important papers to sign, are probably not so important, and that Lockhart probably works too hard.

If that's the case, viewers would be advised not to work too hard in trying to figure out whatever is going on here.

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