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A Cure for Wellness
  • Composed by Bejnamin Wallfisch
  • Milan / 2017 / 49m

A psychological horror directed by Gore Verbinski, A Cure For Wellness charts the strange goings-on at a Swiss rehab centre.  A box office bomb, it has received little praise except for its arresting visuals.  Benjamin Wallfisch seemed likely to become a film composer of real note just a few years ago, writing elegant, classically-styled music of sophistication, suggesting he might follow the path of someone like Alexandre Desplat if he got the big breaks.  He’s gone down a very different course however, joining Hans Zimmer’s stable which guarantees working on high-profile films but at an artistic cost.  He obviously wouldn’t be scoring a film like this if he hadn’t chosen to go that way – I’m sure he would be writing interesting music for something, but probably not earning nearly as much for doing so, so nobody could begrudge him what he’s done.  (He does still seem to be finding time to work on much smaller films and write much better music for them, so we still have that to be grateful for.)

There are moments early in the score when it seems like the old Wallfisch might be shining through – the lullaby theme of the opening “Hannah and Volmer” is really very good, a piece of pastiche Viennese opulence appears in “The Rite” – but before long the music turns a long way away from that.  At its best during those sections it has a raucous sense of overblown fun – “Feuerwalzer” could be a piece from one of Verbinski’s Pirates movies – and it is always a pleasure when the main theme makes an appearance – but elsewhere there’s a disappointingly generic feel to the horror shocks and tracks like “Lipstick” are probably very effective in context, but really very unpleasant on album.  My favourite track is the outstanding cover of the Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated” which appears at the end of the album, sung arrestingly by Mirel Wagner.  The score is reasonably entertaining – the first half more, the second less – but despite its promising opening it rarely rises above the routine.

Rating: *** | |

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  1. ANDRÉ, Cape Town. (Reply) on Thursday 23 March, 2017 at 22:48

    WALLFISCH’S historical ‘Bitter Harvest’ was released simultaneously with ‘A Cure for Wellness’…and the Epic and dramatic elements of ‘Bitter Harvest’, along with a Romance that plays out as the Russians starve the Ukranians in an attempt to subjugate them, will hopefully elicit a 4* rating if you decide to review the score James. In addition to an earlier score, ‘Conquest 1453′, featuring a bolero rhythmic main theme {for the Turkish Conqueror Mehmet} cloned from VANGELIS’ Spanish-theme ‘1492’, the beautiful melodic content and symphonic structure had me buying many of WALLFISCH’S subsequent releases, hoping to again experience the musical high that ‘Conquest’ generated…I’m still hoping! Maybe I’ll be lucky with ‘Bitter Harvest’. ‘A Cure for Wellness’ vanished after an unsuccessful weekend opening in Cape Town, so I missed out on seeing the movie. The DVD release should be on the shelves soon, so I’ll then get a chance to access the score.

  2. K.S. (Reply) on Tuesday 28 March, 2017 at 01:01

    The score that started Benjamin Wallfisch’s career in film scoring:

  3. Andre>>Cape Town (Reply) on Thursday 18 May, 2017 at 00:53

    `Bitter Harvest`–like `Conquest 143`–is thematically structured, with emotively beautiful themes for Orchestra, Chorus and Vocalise. And WALLFISCHE`S music captures the sadness, brutality and anguish of the horrors inflicted on the Ukranians by Russian Militia. I was about to switch the music off as I selected Aljazeera TV for a news update…Images of the Syrian conflict appeared with WALLFISCHE`S music providing an underscore, that evoked disturbing emotional responses within me as I saw starving children, crippled by bomb blasts, and their parents beseeching Allah to stop the insanity.// I loved ZELTIA MONTES` lovely Romantic music for `Vilamor` and was eagerly awaiting her new release `Fragil Equilibrio`…with tracks titled Governance//Machine// Hypercosmopolis//Disparity etc, her music is harsh and unpleasant as a listening experience, but is probably apt for this documentary.

  4. , Andre>>Cape Town (Reply) on Thursday 14 September, 2017 at 22:44

    Bad reviews and a lack of public interest resulted in the film being pulled off circuit in Cape Town–and just disappearing. The DVD appeared last month, and I eventually viewed the movie last night. The Kafkaesque influence is everywhere once our hero [Daan DeHaan of Valerian and the City of a thousand Planets] arrives at the Spa. And coalesced with WALLFISCH`S music, evokes terror and suspense aplenty. The lullaby – for female vocalese – introduces the movie, and is later used to underscore a number of disparate sequences>>as a music box accompaniment for a blind ballerina that DeHaan`s mother has sculpted…..for “a special patient” a young girl who perches precariously on the edge of a rampart, as though she`s about to commit suicide….as a friendship theme and as end credits music. It`s great to hear WALLFISCH creating music of this calibre–a total contrast to the dreary music he composed for `Annabelle:Creation`.