Sir Anthony Hopkins is one of the greatest actors in the world. If there’s anyone who can bring depth and nuance to a conversation between Sigmund Freud and C. S. Lewis on the existence of God and good and evil, it’s him. And that’s exactly what he does with Freud’s Last Session. A linguistically dense drama, Freud’s Last Session might not have the thrilling action of a Hollywood blockbuster, but it does feature a stunning performance from Hopkins as a man clinging to his ideals in his final moments. While the language it uses is complex, the story itself doesn’t meander too far one way or another. Freud’s Last Session doesn’t have any big revelations, but don’t sleep on Hopkins’ performance.
It’s September 1939 and as World War II is about to erupt, famed psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud meets with scholar C. S. Lewis for a debate about God, faith, trauma, and all the influences that make us who we are. Suffering from the final stages of oral cancer, Freud reminisces about his life and work. Meanwhile, men around the world are about to do unspeakable acts all in the name of an ideology they follow. It’s impossible to understand all the things that make us human, but Freud and Lewis debate the idea nonetheless.
Freud’s Lat Session is not a film for everyone. The majority of it is a debate between two of the most intelligent people of their times about topics that aren’t exactly the easiest to follow. Freud is a staunch atheist while Lewis is a Christian apologist so their conversation mostly revolves around the existence of God, with Freud trying to convince Lewis that there is no God and vice versa. Director Matthew Brown lays a solid foundation for both arguments, but the biggest issue with the film is that it doesn’t really move the needle in favor of one or the other. Rather the film plays it safe and caters to both sides. It’s fine and understandable, but it also makes the debate less interesting as it will only reinforce whatever beliefs you already have rather than push any boundaries in either direction.
Where the film truly shines is with Anthony Hopkins’ performance. If anyone could capture the intelligence and brash ego it’s Hopkins. Every line is delivered with the utmost confidence and occasionally condescending tone towards Lewis, like a father talking down to a child. To be fair, Matthew Goode delivers a strong performance as well but difference between him and Hopkins is the same as it was between Lewis and Freud.
In addition, there is also a pridefulness that Hopkins brings to Freud in his struggle with the cancer that has been eating away at his mouth. He has accepted his own mortality yet still tries and hides it from others. Only his daughter Anna is allowed to help him with the prosthetic teeth he wears. In one touching moment, he does allow Lewis to help him when the pain becomes too unbearable. Despite all this, Freud’s pride and ego give him the last laugh. He still smokes and drinks despite the cancer. He knows and accepts that death is near, but won’t go out on any terms other than his own.
Even though there are moments and bits of dialogue that went right over my own head, I still enjoyed watching Anthony Hopkins star as Sigmund Freud in Freud’s Last Session. His debate with C. S. Lewis is more like a lively conversation, but it’s one worth listening to. The film also could have undoubtedly pushed harder, especially given the two powerhouse performances it had to work with. It’s simply fine. Even with a film is fine, however, you can always bet on Anthony Hopkins’ delivering something divine.
Freud’s Last Session might not have the thrilling action of a Hollywood blockbuster, but it does feature a stunning performance from Hopkins as a man clinging to his ideals in his final moments. While the language it uses is complex, the story itself doesn’t meander too far one way or another. Freud’s Last Session doesn’t have any big revelations, but don’t sleep on Hopkins’ performance.