Reel Reviews | Freud’s Last Session

by Charles Kirkland, Jr.

A wartime meeting between two of the world’s greatest minds, Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis is
portrayed in Freud’s Last Session.

One day in September 1939, as the country was falling into the Second World War, a young Christian,
Oxford professor, C.S. Lewis responded to an invitation from the great atheist Sigmund Freud. During
their meeting, these two test the intellectual mettle of each other as they debate Christianity,
psychology, John Bunyan’s latest book, and even the existence of God.

Freud’s Last Session is a fictional drama written by Matt Brown and Mark St. Germain based upon the
play by St. Germain and suggested by the book “The Question of God” by Dr. Armand M. Nicholi, Jr. The
movie stars Anthony Hopkins, Matthew Goode, Liv Lisa Fries, and Jodi Balfour. The film is directed by
Matt Brown (The Man Who Knew Infinity).

In a world of action movies and comedy stylings, Freud’s Last Session serves as a respite from reality.
The movie is sober and pensive. It is an exercise in intelligence with Anthony Hopkins as Freud and
Matthew Goode as C.S. Lewis. The two actors engage in a reasonably polite fencing match, thrusting
and parrying each other’s attacks deftly. There are brief moments of intermission to the fencing match
where we see Freud’s daughter Anna played by Liv Lisa Fries attempting to establish herself as an
authority in child psychology. Unfortunately, her job is threatened by her unhealthy relationship with
her ailing father. The majority of the discussion centers around Lewis’ faith and belief and Freud’s utter

Not since The Two Popes has there been a drama that has been so artfully crafted around the issue of
religion. The dialogue is smart and thorough. The performances hold no punches either. Each takes a
turn at aggressive and speculative pontification, thrusting blow after blow toward each other. And while
the assumption would be that Hopkins, an Oscar winner, would dominate the screen, Matthew Goode
holds his own well in this battle.

In honesty, Session is a prestige film. Much like The Two Popes, this film is not going to garner much of
a box office draw. The release was a little later than expected for it to be a serious contender but, there
is probably good reason behind the scheduling. The movie is quite dull. There is nothing in the
dialogue or discussion that is illuminating about the existence or lack thereof of God. The movie
is much more revelatory toward the relationship between Freud and his daughter than anything else.
From the opening scene which quotes Bunyan’s book about dreaming a dream, it is hard to not find
oneself falling into their dream while watching this film. The dream is that Goode or
acting legend Hopkins would become more passionate and persuasive about their stance yet it is just
that, a dream.

Rated PG-13 for thematic material, some bloody/violent images, sexual material and smoking, Freud’s
Last Session is a dull and lackluster film that pretends to be smarter than it is. It is understandable that the movie consciously decides not to take a side in the discussion about the existence of God but because of this, the movie fails to make any statement its own. The lesson? When you play it down the middle, no one can get passionate about the work.

Freud’s Last Session is in theaters on January 12.

Grade: C-