Film Review | Freud's Last Session

Freud articulated and refined the concepts of the unconscious, infantile sexuality and repression and proposed a tripartite account of the mind’s structure.

Film Review | Freud's Last Session

Movies, always remain a passion for me and I have always remained fortunate enough to get associated with cinema from an early age. While crossing the age from younger to an adult, the habit of reading did something remarkable for me, as it not only introduced me to another world, but also familiarised me with so many different aspects and concepts, which were existing at that time and how the same changed in a later time. Reading and watching the biopics are still two of the best aspects for my amusement.

My interest in psychology, human relationships, their similarities, difficulties and other important aspects always remained very close in my observations. Sigmund Freud was the name, I heard while passing through all these experiences. I pursued more to read about him, to know about his works and later on, I did read his books and analysis to cater my existing thoughts and the changing attitudes to cater the upcoming changes and to foresee the future of Human Relationships with a minute view and then to understand the significance of all these inter related things. 

Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, was a physiologist, medical doctor, psychologist and influential thinker of the early twentieth century. Working initially in close collaboration with Joseph Breuer, Freud elaborated the theory that the mind is a complex energy-system, the structural investigation of which is the proper province of psychology. He articulated and refined the concepts of the unconscious, infantile sexuality and repression, and he proposed a tripartite account of the mind’s structure—all as part of a radically new conceptual and therapeutic frame of reference for the understanding of human psychological development and the treatment of abnormal mental conditions. 

Notwithstanding the multiple manifestations of psychoanalysis as it exists today, it can in almost all fundamental respects be traced directly back to Freud’s original work.

The movie’s teaser attracted me with Freud’s giant name and the attraction increased when I came to know that the act will be performed by remarkable actor, Anthony Hopkins. Set on the eve of WWII and towards the end of his life, Freud's Last Session sees Freud (Hopkins) invites iconic author C.S. Lewis for a debate over the existence of God. Exploring Freud's unique relationship with his lesbian daughter Anna and Lewis' unconventional romance with his best friend's mother, the film interweaves past, present and fantasy, bursting from the confines of Freud's study on a dynamic journey.

The script is thought provoking as you follow a neurologist who discovered psychoanalysis conversing with a Christian author who wrote The Chronicles of Narnia. ALSO, the events take place on the day before WWII and both gentlemen are equally brilliant as they are stubborn, as seen with each of the many discussions-turned-arguments that take place. Transitions and flashbacks are heavily utilized to portray character depth, but whether it's a particular style of acting or the timing of each scene paired together, this format ultimately doesn't work. 

Anthony Hopkins and Matthew Goode showcase their individual acting talent with long monologues and fluctuating emotions, but in the pivotal moments of occupying a scene together, the chemistry never quite flourishes. 

However, director Matt Brown keeps the viewer engaged by allowing us to be an unbiased fly on the wall rather than purposely tilting the conversation in one direction. The story feels restrained, most likely due to the subject matter, but that won't affect the enjoyable experience that many will have.

There is a recent outbreak of films made for people past puberty and this film is one of them. Serious issues are discussed. Thoughts are provoked. Both actors (and the actresses who get less flamboyant screen time) play intelligent philosophers grappling with something we all have to face - is there an eternity? Or oblivion? What prompts a genocide by humans to eliminate their own species? No flying cars or superheroes, just intelligent adults grappling with serious questions. Anthony Hopkins fills his unpleasant character with a minimum of scenery chewing, and Matthew Goode was a pleasant surprise, keeping his quieter character in the mental battle. But the little-known story of Anna Freud is tragic and brings real emotion to the story. A grown-up and a brilliant film. 

Ultimately, there is quite a good amount of wisdom and intellectual content in Freud's Last Session and for that I found it fun, mildly moving and worthwhile. The cinematography and acting are decent. If you like psychology, philosophy and films that are really just plays on screen, then I hope you'll enjoy this.