Sunday, August 11, 2013

Miracles of hypnosis

Lasse Hallström is a quite an awesome director who manages to tell beautiful, almost liquid stories in a way that just takes you away like a river. Granted, he usually has very good groundwork of a novel to work from but still - a poor director can easily mess up a very good story.

This time it seems a bit more the other way around. The Hypnotist or Hypnotisören sounds like a very promising story which just doesn't manage to deliver. The story of a writer Lars Kepler was quite a successful bestseller in Sweden and just like the book, the movie also speaks of a detective Joona Linna, who pairs with a controversial hypnotist whose past has made him sort of a pariah in the psychological or medical world. A young woman and her parents are murdered by a killer who seems to be determined to wipe out the entire family. The only one who barely escapes their fate is the son who is now lying in the hospital. In order to save him from becoming the victim of the murderer and also to find the one surviving daughter who is not living with the family anymore. They are racing against time as the murderer is most likely looking for her as well.

The movie was Sweden's submission for Foreign Language Oscar consideration. Sweden is a country that is darker in itself, has many hidden corners that just call for murder mysteries. Perfect setting. The story seems compelling and might be a good one had Lasse and his screenwriter not tried to fit the entire 500 page book into 122 minutes. Because the movie touches an affair the hypnotist Erik had had before the present time and had left his marriage very vulnerable, the experiment treatment that made him a controversial subject and the complications that that brought into his life. It tries to show the struggles of Erik's wife, the shambles that was the victim's family and the history of the boy who is lying in the hospital. In the meantime it tries to present Joona Linna (who is a staple character of Kepler's books) as a bachelor who struggles in his personal life and yet still wants to try and have a relationship only to discover he cares about his work more. I am telling you, this is enough for a miniseries, two hours won't do. 

The ending is so bizarre that at one point (not to spoil anything - it's when some of the characters are running) I actually snorted out loud. Yes, it was ridiculous. With proper screenwriting editing this could be a good movie but it's just mildly entertaining. I haven't read the book so I can't judge it but looking at the cover on the right, it seems a lot more promising than the movie.

Often a movie can't do justice to the book but this time it just tried to be too much like the book, I guess, or tried to include every detail of the book. And the end result just doesn't do justice to the title. The amount of hypnosis in the movie is only enough for a taste. No more. Sweden, you could do better. So could you, Lasse.

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