A Cure for Wellness (2017)
An ambitious young executive, Lockhart, is sent to a Swiss sanitorium to bring back his company’s rogue CEO, Morris Pembroke. The head of the spa, Dr. Heinreich Volmer, drips bad guy charm, but is also the voice of scientific reason. The patients at the spa are semi-retired high-flying executives, seemingly half-mad with wellness rhetoric, convinced they feel healthy, but never healthy enough to leave.
There are elements of Jacob’s Ladder, The Shining, Shutter Island and even Eyes Wide Shut. It’s an adult fairy tale, and Lockhart suffers at every turn. Like the amateur historian who helps him with his questions about the history of the area and is left a desiccated husk, Lockhart is good at puzzles. Before arriving at the spa, Lockhart visits his mother in her down-at-heel retirement home, and she gives him a ceramic ballerina she has painted. She says the ballerinas eyes are closed because she is dreaming. She also tells him he won’t come back from Switzerland. These two thoughts dominate the rest of the film, because once Lockhart starts drinking the water at the spa, we are given the puzzle of working out what is real and what is not.
The vampiric financial services industry, represented by Pembroke and Lockhart, is in conflict with the parasitic wellness industry, but the driver who takes the rich clientele to the spa does his job, like his father did, and that’s enough for him. The rowdy teenagers in the village are poor and can only look up at the wealth on the mountain top. Nobody ever leaves the spa, and as Hannah, the mysterious young woman who drifts around the grounds, says — why would anyone want to?