Freud's Last Session - Photo Sony Pictures Classics
Freud’s Last Session – Photo Sony Pictures Classics

If you enjoy stimulating conversation, just imagine what mental jousting would occur if/when Sigmund Freud, the atheist ‘father’ of psychoanalysis, and erudite Christian apologist C.S. Lewis were to speculate about religion and the existence of God.

For the intellectual invention “Freud’s Last Session,” director Matthew Brown worked with writer Mark St. Germain to adapt his 2009 stage play into what is, basically, a compelling spiritual debate. 

Having fled from Nazi-controlled Vienna in 1938, now 83-year-old Freud (Anthony Hopkins) and his daughter Anna (Liv Lisa Fries) have settled into a small house in London. 

Suffering from terminal intraoral cancer, Freud is, nevertheless, intrigued when C.S. Lewis (Matthew Goode), an esteemed Oxford don, comes to call. Lewis is hoping that the dying doctor might find some consolation in the concept of an afterlife. A fervent convert to Christianity, this is before Lewis blended fantasy and doctrine in his beloved “Chronicles of Narnia.”

“We’re all cowards…We’ve never matured enough to overcome the terror of being in the dark,” Freud argues. To which Lewis counters: “Why does religion make room for science, but science refuses to make room for religion?”

Their verbal sparring is cohesive and respectful, deftly delineating their personal perspectives. As Freud notes: “From error to error, one discovers the entire truth.”

Dependent on periodic doses of morphine, Freud struggles with the cumbersome prosthesis he must wear to replace his resected palate and jaw. Plus, he’s stressed about Anna’s lesbian relationship with fellow analyst Dorothy Burlingham (Jodi Balfour); over the years, he and Anna have obviously had a co-dependent relationship.

Then when air-raid sirens warn of German bombers, they make their way to a nearby shelter. Previous to that excursion, there are numerous flashbacks to both men’s formative years, describing their respective backstories and the traumas that shaped their disparate philosophies.

Boasting exquisite performances by Hopkins and Goode, this is, essentially, a perceptive, character-driven narrative. Some may deem the highbrow discussion boring; others find the arguments exhilarating. Above all, the film accomplishes what its writer/director set out to do.

FYI: Hopkins played novelist C.S. Lewis in “Shadowlands” (1993) and, if you relish brain stimulation, track down “My Dinner with Andre” (1981) and “Mindwalk” (1990) for more compelling conversations.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, “Freud’s Last Session” is a thought-provoking, enlightening 9, now streaming on Apple TV, Prime Video and Vudu. 

Death and Other Details - Photo Hulu
Death and Other Details – Photo Hulu

Murder mysteries abound – there’s reality-based (“Tracker”), British-derived (“Criminal Record”), occult (“Sanctuary: A Witch’s Tale”), star-propelled (“True Detective: Night Country”), animated (“Grimsburg”), along with the sui generis “Griselda,” “Fool Me Once” and “The Brothers Sun.”

Which is why Hulu’s 10-episode series “Death and Other Details,” created by Mike Weiss and Heidi Cole McAdams, strives to be a bit different, unearthing the generational secrets of internationally powerful families.

Set in the Mediterranean Sea on the luxurious S.S. Verona yacht, the plot focuses on Imogene Scott (Violett Beane), the prime suspect in a locked-room murder mystery. A prologue explains that – when Imogene was 10 years-old – her mother died suspiciously. Although world-famous British detective Rufus Cotesworth (Mandy Patinkin) was summoned, he’s been unable to crack the case.

Now 28, Imogene is on-board with the wealthy Collier family who took her in after her mother’s tragic demise. Patriarchal Lawrence Collier (David Marshall Grant) is retiring and Imogen’s best-friend, Anna Collier (Lauren Patten), is ready to become CEO of Collier Mills, a textile company.

Shortly after embarkation, boorish passenger Keith Trubitsky (Michael Gladis) is found dead in his cabin, a harpoon protruding from his belly, Since there’s video footage of Imogene sneaking into his room, she’s immediately under suspicion.

Fortunately, alcoholic/irascible Rufus is also aboard; eager to prove her innocence, Imogene becomes his ad-hoc assistant. “Pay attention,” he lectures her. “Details matter…If you want to solve a crime, you must first learn to see through the illusion.”

Other passengers include Mrs. Collier (Jayne Atkinson), the Colliers’ lawyer (Jere Burns), Anna’s neurotic wife Leila (Pardis Saremi), her coked-up brother Tripp (Jack Cutmore-Scott), and her ex, Eleanor Chun (Karoline), part of the uber-rich Chun family that’s brokering a billion-dollar deal with Collier Mills.

Plus the ship’s owner (Rahul Kohli), security chief (Hugo Diego Garcia), hospitality head (Angela Zhou), governor of the state of Washington (Tamberla Perry), Interpol agent (Linda Emond), Father Toby (Danny Johnson) with his 14-year-old son That Derek (Sincere Wilbert) – and an elusive criminal mastermind, Viktor Sams. 

Add to the mix the use of the poisonous pigment Captionem Blue in manufacturing, blackmail, deception and more murders – all dramatically over-the-top, derivative and unevenly paced. So, whodunnit? As this less-than-compelling, Agatha Christie-stylized detective series drags on, I’m not sure I care.On the Granger Gauge, “Death and Other Details” is a shallow, mildly suspenseful 6 – with its concluding episode scheduled for March 5th on Hulu.

Westport resident Susan Granger grew up in Hollywood, studied journalism with Pierre Salinger at Mills College, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. In addition to writing for newspapers and magazines, she has been on radio/television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic for many years. See all her reviews at www.susangranger.com.