Tulip Fever

2.5 Stars

Like a livelier, yet absurd version of Girl with a Pearl Earring.

There are some major similarities between Tulip Fever and Girl with a Pearl Earring – both are set in 17th century Holland, involve a portrait painter, and star a beautiful and talented young actress of the day. However compared with its slow-moving yet authentic predecessor, the tale of Tulip Fever is much too far-fetched to be taken seriously.

Orphan Sophia (Alicia Vikander) marries the considerably older Cornelis Sandvoort (Christopher Waltz) as part of a deal in order to leave the orphanage where she lives and send her siblings to live with relatives abroad. Out of obligation to her husband, Sophia does her best to be a good wife in spite of having no feelings for him. That is, until the young artist Jan Van Loos (Dane DeHaan) is commissioned to paint their portrait.

Alicia Vikander is no doubt a talent, but I feel she was miscast in this role as she is much too stiff to display a compelling amount of emotion. The same goes for Dane DeHaan. What could have been a very special and fascinating relationship between the two characters comes across as mundane and boring. Christopher Waltz is his usual unnerving self and does very well with what he has to work with. Judi Dench is absolutely spot-on in her minor role as the orphanage nun.

On the one hand it’s good that the plot doesn’t just stay in one place – it does twist and turn. However some of the storyline seemed to go completely against the nature of the characters and what they would have done in certain situations.

I can’t fault the costumes and sets, the way it was shot and the overall feel of the film which i’m sure has taken inspiration from paintings of the Dutch masters. However these things don’t do enough to make up for the weaker aspects of the film.

Tulip Fever premieres in Sweden on 14 July.

A Cure For Wellness

2.5 Stars

A poor man’s Shutter Island, overcompensated by far too many plot twists.

I really enjoyed Shutter Island so I was interested to see this as it looked like a similar concept… sadly, it falls way short.

Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) is a brash young executive who has been sent by his colleagues to a rehabilitation center in Switzerland to bring back Pembroke (Harry Groener), in order to secure a business merger – but bringing him back becomes much harder than he imagined.

What starts out as a promising and intriguing tale with a beautiful backdrop of the Swiss alps, ends up in a whirlwind of horror clichés. I love a good plot twist, but this plot twists back and forth so many times you just want to slam on the breaks. There really is such a thing as ‘too much of a good thing’.

I’m not sure if the story is just not expressed well enough or if it literally didn’t make sense, but several times near the end I felt like I needed to consult a second party to explain what was going on. Don’t get me wrong, i’ve seen films where confusion has actually built more suspense; but this was confusing to the point where you start to lose interest.

On the plus side, it does give you an uneasy feeling which stays with you after you have left the cinema. I always appreciate films that can give you an ongoing experience after you’ve seen them, even if unpleasant.

The film really does have all the ingredients for a top-shelf thriller, it’s just the storyline which lets it down greatly.

A Cure For Wellness premieres in Sweden on 17 February.