Anthony Hopkins, left, and Matthew Goode in a scene from“Freud’s Last Session.” 14 Sunset, LB Entertainment, Last Session Productions

“Freud’s Last Session,” directed by Matt Brown (“The Man Who Knew Infinity”) is a dark film we don’t need right now, but it brings us the gifted Anthony Hopkins (“Silence of the Lambs,” an even darker film).

The story begins on the first day of World War II in Europe, and possibly the last day of Sigmund Freud’s life.

This, of course, is that Sigmund Freud, an Austrian neurologist born in 1856, who died in 1939 after Hitler had taken control of Austria. We’re given bits of that drama.

Matthew Goode (“The Imitation Game,” “The Crown” and “Downton Abby”) is here as middle-aged C.S. Lewis, who pays a visit to Freud’s home in London to argue about the idea of the existence of God. Are you ready for one of those?

This is where the regular moviegoer is drawn to watch Hopkins create another of his Hannibal Lecter moments. This is not the “life” of Freud, and many will grow impatient with Freud’s living room.


What we have is a fictitious scenario where these two great minds sit and engage in mental ping pong that soon becomes intellectual swordplay.

Today, as we all struggle to stay afloat in the troubled sea of our own personal dramas, we find ourselves at the movies to watch these two famous actors work, but especially to watch Hopkins shout and snarl, as he portrays the dying Freud.

We’re in London, 1939, as Germany has begun shaking down Poland and igniting WWII. Freud stalks about his house, about to welcome a visitor, while desperately searching for medicine to kill the horrible pain of the cancer in his bleeding jaw. We see a metal fixture ripped from his jaw, followed by lots of blood on British napkins.

Freud has sent his youngest daughter, Anna (Liv Lisa Fries), by now a well-known child psychiatrist in London, to pick up his medicine. Anna bumps into Lewis and directs him to her father’s house.

While welcoming Lewis, Freud keeps fussing with the radio which is announcing news of Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland. It’s clear that England is preparing for war, and the main plot begins to emerge as their conversation takes us via flashbacks to the “Great War,” where Lewis was wounded in the trenches of Flanders.

Soon it’s a duel between Satan (Freud was a strident atheist) and God (Lewis was an atheist who became a devout Christian). There you go. Make of it what you will. I can tell you that director Brown was fortunate to sign Hopkins and Goode.


The film escapes the confines of the stage to take us to Austria, where Freud and his daughter are plagued by the Gestapo. To save her, Freud, despite his fame, flees to London. We see little of that. Remember, this is a play.

I’ll leave the flashbacks for your personal viewing. In Brown’s staged film, we meet a solid cast including Jeremy Northam as Dr. Ernest Jones, who loves Anna.

We meet Stephen Campbell Moore as J.R.R. Tolkien (“Lord of the Rings,” “The Hobbit”), Rhys Mannion (“Silver and the Book of Dreams”) and Jodi Balfour who appears on Apple TV+ in “For All Mankind.”

“Freud’s Last Session,” is based on Mark St. Germain’s play of the same name, and drawn from Armand Nicholi’s book, “The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life” (which we’ve all read cover to cover?). It probably has not found a place in my book case.

“Freud’s Last Session” is a serious film about serious people, and no matter who plays Anna, and certainly Ms. Fries is very good, or who plays Lewis (Goode is a talented actor who still delivers his usual fine work), we’re here to watch the great Anthony Hopkins give us the famous Sigmund Freud.

“Freud’s Last Session” opens Friday, Jan. 12, at the Main Film Center.

J.P. Devine of Waterville is a former stage and screen actor.

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