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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: