Seeking Wellness: Suffering Through Four Movements
Written and directed by Daniel Schneidkraut
Film review by Sebastian Gahan 22/12/2010
If you're feeling ill, unwell or somewhat mentally unbalanced at the moment, there are plenty of remedies I could suggest to you off the cuff. But before I do so, let me suggest a viewing of this curious little art movie with the fun subtitle of Suffering Through Four Movements.
Tempting as it maybe to make obvious puns about the after effects of watching a movie titled as it is, critical neutrality prevents me from doing so. So, here are my thoughts after watching Seeking Wellness in its entirety, as its packaging suggests one should do.
'What's it all about then?' you may ask, and at times I had no idea to be honest. That isn't a bad judgment on the film itself, as it was quite enjoyable in the same vicarious way one watches medical documentaries and can't help but watch the blood and organs as operations are conducted by the surgeons involved despite the depths of your stomach saying otherwise.
As an art movie - as this undoubtedly is - it really could have been more over the top, but instead it is almost hyper realistic in some ways. With a minimal soundtrack that makes it all seem all the more rough and realistic, it moves through four segments of the film, all detailing some aspect of suffering in either a visually physical or psychological manner, and it is played with such seriousness that you believe that it could be real.
Seeking Wellness opens with a caption explaining that it is an experience rather than a film, and it certainly isn't a lie. All the vignettes are somewhat uncomfortable to watch, concerning murder, rape, assault of many kinds and, notably perhaps, the tumour eating of the last part that really did get a reaction from me.
Suffice to say that this is not a film designed to be enjoyed in the traditional manner, rather a documentary horror that is played so straight as you almost forget it's not someone's home movies at some points. It's in your face, honest and for me the standout pieces are the beginning CCTV shot vignette, where two men break into a hospital and rape and murder the persons there - made all the more effective with no audio - and the section entitled 'Daddy's Time', where two children open their presents with the titular Daddy in a very uncomfortable way as he unwraps a loaded gun and doesn't get to shooting anybody as much as talking rather eerily about it and his childhood abuse in a pitch perfect performance from all.
As the packaging suggests, watch this in one sitting, even if it is by design a difficult thing to do. It certainly is an experience to make to realise that your own life is truly wonderful.
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