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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Freud's Last Session (M) - 109 minutes

The father of psychoanalysis meets a feted author and they discuss whether God exists.

 

That is the centrepiece of Freud’s Last Session.

 

Sigmund Freud (Anthony Hopkins) is in failing health and struggling.

 

With death approaching, he remains heavily opinionated.

 

He has taken issue with British author CS Lewis (Matthew Goode), who has come out as “a believer” and written about it.

Even though they don’t know one another, Freud invites Lewis to his home for a chat.

 

When he arrives late (as the former points out more than once), Freud starts rationalising and Lewis retorts.

 

Their discussion is cerebral, with neither backing away from their stated position.

 

Through the process, we find out about the backgrounds of both. These emerge through flashbacks and dreams.

 

Each has experienced deep emotional pain.

Freud’s daughter, Anna (Liv Lisa Fries), who created the field of child psychoanalysis, has an extreme attachment to her father. He has far too much control over her.

 

She also has lurid fantasies and is in a lesbian relationship that her father doesn’t countenance.

 

For his part, CS Lewis has formed a special connection with a friend’s mother, having suffered trauma while on the front line.

 

Both major protagonists fear death.

 

As the title suggests, the conversation between Freud and CS Lewis will turn out to be the former’s last substantive one.

Based on a play by Mark St Germain, who wrote the screenplay with director Matt Brown, I far preferred the second half of the film to the first.

 

That is when what made Sigmund Freud and CS Lewis who they are really started pouring out.

 

Until that point, much of the first hour all but appeared as space filling waffle.

 

Sure, Freud and Lewis spoke with one another, but it was esoteric conversation.

 

It felt like the filmmakers were intent on blinding patrons with verbiage for the sake of it.

 

I saw that as a fault of the writing (which needed to be expressed in language that was more readily relatable), certainly not of the acting.

As a device, the flashbacks worked, but it was the material around it that had to be emancipated.

 

The performances themselves were sound, as were the film’s production values.

 

Hopkins played Freud as verbally dexterous, but flawed.

 

Goode was more restrained and respectful as CS Lewis.

 

Liv Lisa Fries was dutiful and harried as Anna.

 

As a window to the world, Freud’s Last Session highlights the vulnerabilities and failings in all of us, be that the learned or the unschooled.

 

Learning to endure and managing grief, distress and sexual proclivities is a lifelong mission, all of which can only end one way.

 

Rated M, the film scores a 6 out of 10.

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