Tag Archives: Matthew Goode

Meeting of Minds

Freud’s Last Session

by Christie Robb

Freud’s Last Session imagines the lengthy conversation that might have taken place had a young C.S. Lewis (author of the Chronicles of Narnia) taken a train down from Oxford to meet up with a dying Sigmund Freud to debate the existence of God.

It could have happened. An anonymous Oxford don did apparently chat with Freud toward the end of his life in 1939, right as England was declaring war on Hitler’s Germany. But history didn’t record the identity of the scholar.

Freud, the man behind the field of psychoanalysis, is a committed atheist and he’s keen to talk to Lewis (already a published author and famous Christian about town) about the origins and inner workings of a faith he’d come to as an adult.

Freud is played by Anthony Hopkins (who once played C.S. Lewis beautifully in 1993’s Shadowlands). He delivers the layered and nuanced performance you’d expect from someone as talented as Hopkins. Still, it manages to feel that he’s giving you Freud’s greatest hits instead of plumbing the depth of this controversial and legendary figure. (He’s shown chomping a cigar talking about regressing to his oral stage of development and absentmindedly fiddling with a pair of scissors after discussing the fear of castration.) But that’s not Hopkins’ fault. Hopkins finds both the fear and the playfulness sprinkled amidst the theory.

Matthew Goode plays Lewis and he is good. He manages to hold his own with Hopkins. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have nearly as much material to work with. He doesn’t expand much about Lewis’s philosophy. Hopkins gets all the best lines.

Freud’s Last Session is adapted from a stage play and you can feel the director/co-writer Matt Brown (The Man Who Knew Infinity) struggling with that legacy.

The film is beautifully set, almost a Pinterest board of all things Dark Academia. It’s shot in chiaroscuro—a high contrast technique that sets off a highlighted subject against a dark background. Perfect lighting for weighty discussions about the legacy of war, why bad things happen to good people, and why one’s daughter feels compelled to tell one about her genderbending S&M fantasies.

To adapt the material to film, Brown makes use of cutaways to what is happening elsewhere while the men chat—whether that is what is happening on the same day but elsewhere or flashbacks.

We see an overburdened Anna Freud (the doctor’s daughter, not his wife, although you’d certainly be forgiven for mistaking her for a spouse given the way the old man treats her) and flashbacks to the two central men’s formative years. However, the cutaways interrupt the flow of the debate. Although sometimes beautiful, they seem like a deflection and distraction from what might have been weightier revelations—like the subject was changed right as we were getting to the good stuff. 

In the end, the film seems like a beautifully composed thought experiment, but it doesn’t exactly make for a satisfying story.

For Your Queue: These Kids are Not All Right


If box office numbers are accurate, you did not see the film Stoker. You can remedy that today, its DVD release date. Filmmaker Chan-wook Park’s gorgeously filmed English language debut plays like a fractured version of Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt, boasts an excellent cast – Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, Nicole Kidman – and surprises with every scene. It is worth a look.

If you haven’t seen Oldboy, you are probably sick of people telling you you should see it. So…perhaps you should just see it. From 2003, it is Park’s gripping tale of a man held prisoner by a mysterious captor for 15 long years, then suddenly released. His search to find answers reveals haunting twists and unforgettable moments of tension, heartbreak and perversion. Even if Spike Lee’s upcoming remake is worthy, the original Oldboy should not be missed.



Not So Sure the Kids are All Right

by Hope Madden

If you haven’t seen Chan-wook Park’s twisted revenge fantasy Oldboy, do so immediately. I’ll wait.

Amazing, isn’t it? Hell, his whole Vengeance Trilogy (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance) inspires awe. Wildly inventive, punishing and entertaining, the films mark a director with a talent for subversive action.

For the Korean filmmaker’s English language debut, he turns his attention to a dysfunctional family drama/mystery. But even a softer Park offers surprising punch.

Mia Wasikowska (The Kids are All Right) plays India Stoker, an odd girl, pensive, in a Wednesday Addams kind of way. A car accident kills her father on her 18th birthday, leaving her to contend with her chilly mother (Nicole Kidman, wonderful) and the surprise, lengthy visit from an Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode) she never knew she had.

Wasikowska treads the uneven ground of this character quite well. Never entirely sympathetic, her India strikes the necessary chords to keep Park’s twists believable.

Goode’s an underrated performer. His dreamy good looks and big-eyed eagerness belie a particular kind of weirdness perfect for the role.

The film, quite intentionally, plays like a fractured take on Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt, Uncle Charlie and all. There’s something weirdly amiss – sinister, even – in this house, and the handsome, attentive uncle is clearly not what he pretends to be.

But Park and screenwriter Wentworth Miller have a different tale to tell, one whose lurid details are suggested from the onset with saturated colors, evocative sounds, and the peering camera of Chung-hoon Chung (Park’s regular collaborator). As he slides around corners and crawls along pathways, his camera forever heightens tensions as well as a sense of puzzlement.

Solid performances across the board anchor a story that missteps once in a while. This is the first screenwriting credit for actor Miller (Prison Break), whose efforts were aided by contributions from Erin Cressida Wilson, the pen behind the dark indie flicks Secretary, Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus, and Chloe.

But it’s Park who makes the film, an effort that could easily have faltered under the weight of style over substance. In his hands, each scene is meticulously crafted – every color, every sound, every glance – to lift the already capable performances and solid script to something better than it should be.

Provocative, slyly funny and a bit twisted (you can expect nothing less from Park), Stoker represents a quietly fascinating image of a twisted family dynamic.

3 1/5 stars (out of 5)