When I received an email about a movie I could review starring Eva Green (Casino Royale) and Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina, my favorite movie of 2014), I was intrigued. The studio sent me a link and my wife and I sat down to watch, knowing nothing about it. That made things even more intriguing.
Ines (Alicia Vikander) is an artist that meets up with her sister, Emilie (Eva Green), at a restaurant. We can see from her subtle facial expressions, she’d rather be anywhere else. Emilie wants her to go to a retreat at a luxurious hotel in the middle of the woods. And when we see it’s the brilliant French actress Charlotte Rampling (The Verdict, 45 Years, Helena, Swimming Pool, Red Sparrow, etc.) who runs the place, we realize that’s actually a problem. The look on her face is one that makes you immediately think — uh oh, this is going to be like that horrible A Cure for Wellness a few years ago, and people are going to be tortured, eels are going to be stuck into your body, and who knows what else. Luckily, it’s not going down that path but a much more serene and interesting premise. People with terminal illnesses can live their final days or weeks, in a luxurious place with anything they want (I’m guessing it’s rather pricey). At the time of your choosing, you drink a potion to kill yourself on your terms. Of course, there are forms to signs, and doctors to interview you to make sure everything is above board.
It’s a nice premise on dealing with this issue, but it just starts to feel so unrealistic as people act in a way that doesn’t work. It also starts to get repetitive.
The movie also becomes a meandering mess, and instead of feeling horrible for a sister that has issues with how she was treated, we start to feel that she’s a bit emotionally manipulative.
I also don’t think Swedish writer/director Lisa Langseth realizes that, with so many cult type movies we’ve had recently (The Endless is the most underrated, done by two San Diegan filmmakers, and Midsommar is going to the big one coming out soon)…audiences are going to be expecting something completely different than a sibling rivalry with euthanasia.
The movie did have a few interesting elements. Who would’ve thought that there would be an I.T. person that can help you look more impressive on the internet once you pass. I mean, who wants to die and not look that cool in an obituary? We know from the Christmas cards that list our relatives’ boring accomplishments, or the daily Facebook posts of vacations, concerts and restaurants, that everyone wants to brag about their life. And if you’re paying the big bucks to live out your final weeks in luxury, it’s nice to have a computer genius fluff up some stuff online.
It’s just a shame this movie couldn’t have warmer moments. There is a time when a guy in a wheelchair asks to sleep with Emilie. That was probably meant to be the heartwarming section of the story, but it didn’t do for me what the Eric Stoltz/Helen Hunt film from 1992 (The Waterdance) did with similar circumstances.
Another wasted opportunity was with actor Charles Dance (Game of Thrones). He has a brain tumor and sits around the park smoking. I wanted him to say more profound things, but at least at his final party, the dude goes out it in style. He hires the amazing band The Mergers, who do a few songs that rock, and knock your socks off.
This movie does two things that all movies seem to do these days, although it actually makes sense here. They have a barfing scene (the sister, and audience, needs a clue that someone might be sick). And, they play David Bowie (perfect time to use “Rock ‘n Roll Suicide”). Again, the music I loved hearing was the mod rockers The Mergers, which sound like The Beatles meet the Kaiser Chiefs (find their song “I’ll be a Better Man” and thank me later).
This film isn’t given a San Diego release (the closest theatre you can see it in is in Los Angeles), but it’s Video on Demand starting Friday.
1 ½ stars out of 5.