“Freud’s Last Session”


Metacritic (8/10), Letterboxd (4/5), Imdb.com (8/10), TMDB.com (8/10)

Near the end of his life in 1939, Sigmund Freud (Anthony Hopkins) held one last session at his London home after fleeing the encroaching Nazi oppression in his native Vienna. At that time, just as the German blitzkrieg against Poland was beginning, Freud is said to have met with an Oxford scholar, believed to be author and theologian C.S. Lewis (Matthew Goode), in a lengthy session in which the duo discussed a variety of subjects. In writer-director Matt Brown’s hypothetical meeting between them, viewers witness the two visionaries debate such topics as atheism vs. faith, science vs. religion/spirituality, the nature of fear, their respective backgrounds (including the personal demons that have haunted them) and their relationships with family members (particularly Freud’s arm’s-length connection with his lesbian daughter, Anna (Liv Lisa Fries)), among others. Their conversations are both mesmerizing and revelatory, uncovering aspects of each of them that most of us probably never knew. And, in the process, it becomes apparent that this session was as much for Freud’s benefit as it was for Lewis, given that the good doctor was in the late stages of oral cancer and contemplating how to make peace with his impending death. The dialogues between the two delve into some very heady material, the kind of discussions that movies rarely, if ever, deal with in such depth, especially as pointedly and insightfully as they’re depicted here. Their byplay is intercut with a series of flashbacks, providing the back story about how they each arrived at their respective points in their lives, leaving little doubt as to where they were coming from, as well as why they each harbored inherently conflicting viewpoints that led them both to continually question the nature of their lives, their existence and their place in the Universe. And making all of this work are the stellar performances of Hopkins and Goode, both of whom are in top form here. Admittedly, there are some hiccups in the flow of the narrative at times, but, given the richness and depth of their exchanges, these bumpy little glitches are easily overlooked in favor of the magnitude of what viewers receive in return. Those looking for “entertaining” fare are likely to be disappointed by this offering. But those seeking material that’s “enriching” and substantive will find “Freud’s Last Session” a thoughtful and engaging watch, one that’s certain to give pause about life’s bigger questions and how they apply to us, all in the hope of providing deeper meaning into why we’re here and what this thing called life is all about.