“The world is on the brink of war. In his final days, Sigmund Freud, a recent escapee with his daughter from the Nazi regime, receives a visit from the formidable Oxford Don C.S. Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia),” the official synopsis for Freud’s Last Session tells us. “On this day, two of the greatest minds of the twentieth century intimately engage in a monumental session over the belief in the future of mankind and the existence of God.”
There is probably an audience for this movie, just as there was an audience who watched Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory talk – just talk – for nearly two hours in the 1981 movie My Dinner With Andre. Fans of Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs) may want to see his portrayal of Sigmund Freud, just as fans of Matthew Goode (Downton Abbey) will be glad to see how he brings C.S. Lewis to life. Scholars of the work of Freud and Lewis, as well as many other psychiatrists and theologians, will gladly spend close to two hours listening to this debate over the existence of God.
The rest of us will have trouble sitting through director Matt Brown’s ponderous pontification disguised as entertainment. It’s tedious to sit there and watch Hoplins and Goode go on and on about their beliefs, primarily because neither character seems to believe what they are saying. There is no sense of genuine passion on either side, nothing that makes their words – or beliefs – come alive. To succeed, a movie like Freud’s Last Session should, at the very least, inspire its audience to want to learn more about these truly successful and influential men. This movie has the opposite effect: I knew little about either Freud or Lewis before I watched it, learned very little from the experience, and left with a sense of wanting nothing to do with either one ever again.