‘Freud’s Last Session’ Ending Explained & Movie Summary: Is The Film Based On A True Story?

One of the worst kinds of movies has to be the ones that try so hard to be smart and intellectual but eventually fall short and turn out to be snooze-fest. We’re talking about director Matthew Brown’s Freud’s Last Session here, a movie that has Sir Anthony Hopkins and Matthew Goode playing Sigmund Freud and C. S. Lewis, respectively. The story centers on a meeting between Freud and Lewis, where they have a prolonged conversation about their two very contrasting beliefs. Lewis, a stalwart when it comes to Christian literature, and Freud, the pioneer of psychoanalysis and, most importantly, an atheist, are not on the same page regarding the subject of God.

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The idea is novel and very exciting, I must say, but to implement such a thing on the screen, a cinematic flare is essential, which the film clearly lacks here. The movie is adapted from a play, which is adapted from a book. The playwright has co-written the script here with Brown, and I have no pleasure in saying this, but they have done a terrible job. When you are working with historical fiction, the possibilities of experimentation are endless; yet, Brown’s film is absolutely toothless and bores you to death. However, it’s always a delight to watch Hopkins, and he tries his best to keep the ship afloat. And so does Goode, who brings a lot of shades into his portrayal of Professor Lewis. Hopkins and Goode are the only reasons Freud’s Last Session is not a complete train wreck, after all.

Spoilers Ahead

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Plot Synopsis: What Happens In The Movie?

On the third day of the Second World War, Sigmund Freud gets a visit from Oxford Professor C. S. Lewis at his home in London. Freud’s daughter, Anna, who’s in the same profession as her father, seems to be worried about the tumultuous situation outside and hesitates about leaving her ailing father to give a lecture. She does leave eventually, and she sees Professor Lewis on her way out. Lewis is already late for the meeting, thanks to the troublesome transport situation caused by the war.


What Do Freud And Lewis Talk About?

When you’re making a film that is mostly set in a single location and the main deal is a conversation about the existence (or nonexistence) of God between two widely known historical figures, it’s your responsibility to make that sound interesting. Instead, we get the same old argument between a believer and a non-believer with shoddy-as-hell dialogues. It’s painful to see two great actors given almost nothing to play with. Hopkins and Goode still try to make something substantial out of it, with absolutely bland ingredients. The meeting starts on courteous terms, with Lewis apologizing for being late. From there on, though, it’s all about clashes of ideas and perspectives, but it’s all written in such a pedestrian manner that none of it seems actually interesting. Lewis speaks about his childhood, where his grief-stricken father, after the death of his mother, sent him to boarding school, which deeply affected him emotionally, until he received a model house made by his brother, and that made him believe in something that might be out there. On the other hand, Freud was always courageous and ever-inquisitive, and he actually liked it when he could get away from his father. 

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What Is The Deal With Freud And His Daughter Anna?

We all know Anna Freud was the first person to bring psychoanalysis into child psychology, with success. One of the most interesting aspects about her has to be her emotional dependency on her father, Sigmund, and how she constantly used to volunteer to be the subject of his analysis. While the film could have benefited from exploring this angle extensively, the director chose to use Anna only as a minor supporting character. Her relationship with Dorothy Burlingham and her struggle with making her father accept the whole thing do get a little focus, but it’s all just scratching the surface. In fact, it is Lewis who brings the topic of Anna to Freud and keeps asking him about her. The film does make Freud utter words like “sadomasochistic” and “fantasy,” but it just feels like the director is more into proving his intellectual superiority than telling a story properly.


Is The Film’s Story True?

There’s no evidence that Sigmund Freud actually met the man who would go on to write The Chronicles of Narnia on September 3rd, 1939. However, it is widely said that Freud did see an Oxford professor from that time, and there are every chance of that being Lewis only. However, Freud’s Last Season obviously can’t be called a true story based on this alone. The film does clarify that in the end, and it falls into the historical fiction genre, albeit a poorly made one.

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What Happens To Freud And Lewis?

The most significant thing about “Freud’s Last Season” is perhaps the scene of a false alarm for bombing, which compels both Freud and Lewis into taking shelter at a nearby church. Under the church bunker, Lewis gets anxious and paranoid, which surprises Freud as he expects Lewis to be unbothered by any of it due to his being a First World War veteran. Lewis clarifies that it was only inventory. Later, the film circles back to that scene, when the argument regarding “God or no God” has reached its peak. Freud taunts Lewis about how he panicked right before meeting his maker, a prospect that should excite him. Freud also vents about losing his daughter and his infant grandchild to sickness and questions the existence of a God who would do something like that. Lewis tries to reason with him and explains his beliefs, but as you would expect, the battle between these two great minds ends with a drab draw.

Lewis leaves and goes on to live his life, and Freud kills himself three weeks later. The film shows Lewis and Freud dwelling over the idea of suicide. Lewis, who’s obviously not supportive of the idea, tries to talk Freud out of it. But Freud has clearly made up his mind, it seems. This is another poorly written scene, like most of the film, but Hopkins and Goode always salvage it.

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Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra likes to talk about movies, music, photography, food, and football. He has a government job to get by, but all those other things are what keep him going.

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