The Hypnotist (2012)
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As far as the plot goes, there are huge plot elements missing from the Swedish best selling book of 2009 which in my opinion never was that great to begin with. With the parts that gave the books some depth excluded we are left with a shallow story at most.
At least Lena Olins performance elevated the movie a notch, and I believe no other Swedish director than Hallstrom would have been able to provoke the feelings she is showing. The other actors were fair to good, not more not less.
I would not recommend this movie even if you have two hours to spare.
The plot is fairly straightforward. Three members of a family are brutally killed, only the oldest boy surviving. He's in a coma though. Police investigator Joona Linna (played by Tobias Zilliacus) ends up investigating the crime. He gets a doctor to come in to hypnotise the boy to identify his assailant, and the doctor succeeds in doing so. (It is apparently possible for comatose patients to talk under hypnosis.) But then the doctor and his family become caught up in the drama. Will the killer be stopped?
It's a good, simple story. The start and end of the movie in particular are quite strong. The climactic scene at the isolated farm was unexpected and the best part of the movie. Spectacular filmmaking really. It had me on the edge of my seat.
The acting was fine. There's a lot of character development involving Joona Linna, Erik Maria Bark (played by Mikael Persbrandt) and his wife Simone (played by Lena Olin). The movie is called "The Hypnotist" but I didn't really see the doctor as being at the centre of the movie.
This is a slow paced movie, a little too slow for me at times. That might be why people have not rated it higher.
Most of the events take place in a hospital and three homes. There are a lot of shots of wintry Stockholm, a suitable backdrop I suppose for a dark Scandinavian crime drama. I enjoyed what I assume is a realistic portrayal of Swedish life. The dialogue was in Swedish, with subtitles. Everything in the movie seemed rather understated and starkly realistic. This is not a grand Sweden of magic and beauty.
As you might expect in a thoroughly Swedish movie, mental illness and human foibles are the major crime themes. No Hollywood moralising here about good and evil, right and wrong.
Bias disclosure: This is not my favourite genre. I know next to nothing about Scandinavian crime novels, television shows and movies. I haven't even yet read the Larsson "Girl" trilogy, although my sister gave it to me two years ago. Even most American or British crime shows don't interest me, although I am an avid fan of Law & Order.
Also, I went to see this movie without knowing anything about it. Haven't read the book. I didn't even know it was a Swedish movie. Even so, I thought it was OK. You might too.
somewhat strange motivations of the main villain, but then you probably cannot really connect to insane motives.
it was kind of strange that while the hypnotist's character was well developed, with character history and family environment, the other main character - the cop, was very under-developed.
apart from this and a few weak moments that every decent thriller carries in order to support the storyline, it is a pretty good production
A viewer watching this film after Watching Danish/Swdish "Broen" (The Bridge") or other recent Nordic crime stories must think Sweden is a dark, moody and dreary winter-Siberia. I didn't read the novel from which this is based upon by the pseudonym Lars Kepler, written by the married couple Alexandra and Alexander Ahndoril. It was a great sales success, but received bland critics.
Nor will I read it after watching this, I can promise, but it surprises me that those reading this in beforehand will have any pleasure seeing this after wards either. The whole story must be given away. Or should I say stories, because it's at least three of them here. That is also some of the films many problems. it seems like the two writers couldn't decide between please and pain, or which story they wanted to tell here.
When that is said, the acting performances are really god. Persbrandt is good, and especially Olin is amazing. A really believable stung housewife losing her child. This is the strongest part of the film.
What ruins this is not the dark feeling, but the story. It's simply not easy to believe so much of this. It all goes over bend a little over half way through the film, and then 134 minutes is too long. I'm sorry to say that you end up waiting for it to end, and worse is that you don't get to know why either. But instead a great ending with a happy family. But what about the meaning of all this? Well, that's down to the script makers.
Not One of Hallstroms best, maybe his worst, as I see that his bottom rating on IMDb after 26 movies is a 30 year old film, rating 5,44.
Crime drama clearly is not Lasse Hallströms forte. He's done some remarkable films and often creates very likable, believable and true to life characters. While Persbrandt and Olin create somewhat solid characters, they are still miles away from characters Hallström has previously put on screen. The rest of the cast on the other hand is just amazingly dull and underdeveloped.
I haven't read any detective Joona Linna books, so I have no knowledge of him as a character. And after watching this movie I still know absolutely nothing about him. I don't know if he is also downplayed in the books, but in this movie he's just plain uninteresting. There is no background info at all. The detective characters are the driving force behind all crime series. Wallander and Beck are both very solid and interesting characters as is the Norwegian Varg Veum. Germans have crafted the art of "krimi" for years and are masters in that genre. Hallström clearly hasn't watched any of those. Altho I was wondering at times if they had just made a bad casting choice with Tobias Zilliacus and wanted to minimize his screen time in editing and instead focus on Persbrandt and Olin, who steal the show. Zilliacus - at least with his screen time - is incredibly boring and lacks charisma.
Then the story. While initially interesting, the script is just horrible. I will probably have to read the book just to see how they filled in the plot holes that ended up in the movie. Absolutely nothing is logical here. Why did the crime happen? The relationship between the boy and his mother is a complete mystery. A lot of loose ends like her sister. It's a complete mess and the pacing is horrible. The finale is rushed after spending way too much time on everything else.
The only positive things in this movie is the relatively atmospheric cinematography and the acting by Mikaeal Persbrandt. Since this was the first of the Linna series, there will probably be more. They probably wanted a big name to direct the first and then make the rest with a different crew and an established crime series director like Kjell Sundvall or Anders Engström (atleast I hope so).
Not for fans of the genre.
The book itself is solid, interesting read, I love thrillers and mysteries and as a thriller there are multiple options to make you think that you know the answer. To some it might be predictable, to some like me, are let to be driven by the book. It is a long book and has some parts that could have been shorter ... but at the finish you feel good about it.
The movie however, I know it is difficult to put everything in a two hour movie, plus to keep the focus and the things interesting, but the scenario is changed. There are so many good book adaptations on screen, but sadly this is not one of them. So many things are not like they are shown in the movie. That is what bothered me the most. Stick to the story! And secondly I was not impressed with the acting at all. Very frigid, yes I know the book is a little bit dark and the characters are as well, but somehow even the slightest emotions are presented very cold and robotic.
You don't have to agree, after all that is my opinion. And to conclude my opinion, I say read the book. Much more fun.
Starting of with the plot. Which is infuriatingly predictable. And if it's one thing a thriller shouldn't force its viewer to do it's to make us sit and patiently wait for the characters to catch up with the obvious conclusions that the viewer has already reached. This makes the few points that the movie does well into forgettable set-pieces. Things will happen that are mildly intriguing. But then a character will do something that just makes you want to slap them. They'll start to whine. Argue about something non-relevant. I swear. For a long time I even forgot that there was a murder in the movie because the story got so bogged down with lazily written marital problems. For most of the film I was simply thinking two things: "Get on with it!" and "Why are we still here?". And even "Naw, it couldn't be that simple? right? oh, it seems like... yup... they really think this was clever?"
And then there's the characters. My summary mentions Lena Ohlin. And yes. She did become my biggest gripe here. Every scene she was on screen I grew to dislike her even more than the last scene. When not picking unnecessary fights with everyone she meets she's being either hysterical or well... a bit less hysterical. I don't think it's the fault of the actress. Because I think no one would be able to save the characters written into the film. Bland. Uninteresting. Two-dimensional cardboard cutouts of personalities. Again. It's like watching a bad imitation of a mediocre American cop-show where the filmmakers think they're doing the next Sixth Sense.
In many ways it reminds me of the recent series called Äkta Människor. It's that feeling that you're watching a product that the makers are so fond of. But has no idea what has already been done in the genre. Or even worse, they figure that the audience (Swedish middle-class) hasn't seen the films they are influenced by.
About the only redeeming aspect here is the cinematography. But even that where mostly drab grey. Dark and bland...
But as it seems to have been fairly well received I might be in the minority here. It had a couple of interesting ideas in execution. But at the same time it's just too bogged down in mediocrity to stand out in any way, shape or form.
With 'THE HYPNOTIST (2012)' he decided to go back to his roots (at least country-wise) to Sweden after more than 20 years working abroad (primarily the US).
This movie is as far away from the typical feel-good movies he usually makes as possible though, a very bleak and very typical Swedish detective film.
Another thing you can usually count on with his films is great cinematography with beautiful rich and warm colours, but being that this movie is not his typical bag he decided to go the complete opposite in that aspect too.
Most scenes are filmed with intentional poor lighting to cause a sense of dread but honestly just makes it boring to look at instead with washed out colours and overall just a very unimpressive look (save for a couple outdoor scenes).
The script I guess it could have been an okay movie technically but the acting is really dodgy, especially the lead detective played by the unknown (for me at least) Tobias Zilliacus who's seemingly sleepwalking through the scenes for the more part.
Persbrandt and Olin occasionally gets it right but hardly either's proudest acting-moments.
Helena Af Sandeberg is in it for a little bit, I usually like her a lot but her role is fairly pointless in this one.
So yeah, not very impressive and incredibly drawn out.
It's based on a book and even though I haven't read it I am sure that that is much better than the movie, don't see how it could be any worse.
Recommended movies, which are similar, but far better than this: - Stig Larsson's Millennium-trilogy + US-remake by David Fincher with Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara - The Woman in the Cage/The Keeper of Lost Causes - Most of the Wallander-movies - The witness(es), mini-serial - The bridge I + II
*** Warning: Begin of spoilers ***
- the hypnosis-scenes: bad, uninspired, boring. - one of the victims is the persecutor: seen so many times, but in a much better way. - the problems in the relationship of Erik and Simone: superfluous. - the story was in total too unbelievable.
*** End of spoilers ***
Going to investigate the mass murder of a family (what a start to the Christmas season!) police officer Joona Linna finds the son (Josef) just about still alive.Taking Josef to ER,Linna tries to get info out of Josef about who did the killings,but is told by hospital staff that due to the state he is in,it will take some time before Josef is fit for questioning.Desperate to track the killer down,Linna decides to take an "alternative" route and hires hypnotist Erik Maria Bark to hypnotise Josef.As Bark starts to dip deeper into Josef's mind,a mysterious person involved with the killings,decides to show Bark that they are not happy with his involvement.
View on the film:
Casting a Christmas spirit over the Nordic Noir chill,co- writer/(along with Paolo Vacirca) director Lasse Hallström uses streets paved with snow to give this slice of X-Mas Noir some extra icy vibes. Diving into the Nordic Noir with elegant tracking shots hanging on the anxiety gripping Linna and Bark over finding the killer, Hallström & cinematographer Mattias Montero unexpectedly cuts into the Slasher genre,where chop-happy edits and stilted,swinging in the shadows give the tense,decayed Noir mood a visceral fury.
Spread from the novel by Alexander Ahndoril and Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril, (credited as the "godfathers" of Nordic Noir)the screenplay by Vacirca and Hallström cover the skin of Linna and Bark in shivering goosebumps,as the fog from Josef's memories pulls them to the knife edge of the killer,which the writers brilliantly use to open up the deeply flawed Noir background hovering over Bark. Bringing down the X-Mas lights,the writers freeze the despair tied round Bark and Linna to cut into the Slasher zone,that despite not pushing major changes on the sub-genre, (complete with mommy issues!) gives Linna's Noir investigation a brittle, threatening atmosphere.
Joining her husband Hallström, Lena Olin gives a very good performance as Simone Bark,whose outbursts of fear over her husband sinking deeper into the case Olin sends as a reverberating chill across the screen. Determined to fully uncover what took place at the family killing, Tobias Zilliacus gives a great performance as Linna,with the frustrations and hard-nosed aggression of Linna being carved on Zilliacus's face. Bringing fractured memories into focus, Mikael Persbrandt gives an excellent performance as Erik Maria Bark.Trying to keep the "troubles" with his hypnotising of the past hidden under ice, Persbrandt brilliantly wraps Bark in a shaken,intense Nordic Noir desire to prove his methods work,and also to keep the killer from stabbing into his family life,as Bark hypnotises the Nordic Noir.
I'd like to point out that (and here come the spoilers:) the main and essential part of the book is the group hypnotherapy led by Erik, the main character. I'm so tempted to say what happens there but I won't. The second major flaw is everything that led up to the start of the ending. You don't get to see or know why and how they ended up on a desolate farm in the countryside. In the book there are several events leading the story up to this place. What bugs me the most are two simple scenes which they stripped and changed completely. They didn't have to. In the movie, the first crime scene is in a gymnasium. In the book however it's in the adjacent wardrobe. The ending scenes...Good grief. They even managed to change McDonalds to a Thai takeaway. Let alone the final scene which is completely different to the book. So - unless you're dyslectic...Just the read book instead!!! Ending this comment, by changing my vote from 3 to 2. But the book gets a 10 from me.
This movie, OTOH, does not measure up to the book in many ways. First, and *always* foremost, is "How faithful is the adaptation of the screenplay to the action of the book?" Every film changes something. Sometimes the filmmakers makes good changes. They resolve the plot more efficiently and more believably than what happens in the book. Alas, that cannot be said for this movie. Without including any spoilers, I'll just say that the film changes the book in a completely unrealistic, unbelievable way.
Second is casting and character. Some really serious questions could be asked here about why the producers chose the actor they chose for the lead role of Joona Linna (a male, btw), and also for the dr. who is also a hypnotist--? IMO, those 2 actors could've switched roles and the film would've worked better. I also felt that the character of Simone, played by Lena Olin, was manipulated by the screenplay in unfavorable ways. Just let her be who the authors wanted her to be, for crying out loud.
I also have the same 2 questions I always have whenever I watch a European-made movie about Europeans. 1, Are all Europeans, and especially kids, really as surly and hateful and disrespectful toward the police as the movie-makers portray them to be? And 2, Are all European men really as passive and unassertive as European movies portray them to be? They never verbally defend themselves, never respond when someone, even a punk kid, accuses them of ridiculous nonsense, never say anything. They just sit there and take all the abuse anyone wants to throw at them. I can't believe Europe is really like that. But European *movies* are really like that.
Bottom line--read the book. This movie could've been so much better with 2-3 tweaks. It got a lot right. But it changed far too much.
If you have seen a few movies from Sweden, you might even recognize an actor or two. But that is not the point of the movie! The movie that tangles and plays around with a few characters and their story lines, does so in a good way. It never gets too complicated and it never feels like things are in there to fill the running time. Good actors and a good nice story make this a movie to watch
The story begins with a brutal massacre in which an entire family are slaughtered by an unknown assailant. The exasperated police then call in a renowned hypnotist in order to bring the sole survivor out of a coma and find out details of the perpetrator. Much is made of the hypnotism angle but truthfully it only occurs a couple of times in the movie and feels rather wasted as an angle.
THE HYPNOTIST suffers from a lack of interesting characters, particularly the investigating detective who's as bland as they come. Lena Olin is incredibly annoying as Persbrandt's harridan of a wife, and only Persbrandt himself retains sympathy for the viewer. The storyline isn't bad, and it does have a sufficiently dark and vicious edge, but director Lasse Hallstrom does a workmanlike job at best and should stick to the insufferable likes of CHOCOLAT.
So to make a film of a poor book with a good plot and ignore the plot to the extent that you have no idea why anybody does anything is frankly ludicrous.
I love Scandinavian noir so could still enjoy the atmospherics,the cinematography and some of the acting but as a coherent whole forget it.
Despite the film having more style than the book I wouldn't recommend this to anyone .
Set in Stockholm around Christmas, it concerns the mass slaughter of a family, a traumatized boy (Jonatan Bokman), and a hypnotist (Persbrandt) who uses his powers to try and coax information out of the boy. Brought in by the local CID inspector (Tobias Zilliacus), the hypnotist thinks he is doing a good job, but matters take an unexpected turn when his son Benjamin (Oscar Pettersson) is unexpectedly abducted. The plot becomes a race against time to rescue Benjamin, a hemophiliac, before he hemorrhages.
Lasse Hallström's production is highly atmospheric, using the snow- covered streets and gray lights of a Swedish winter to create a sense of foreboding in a story that proves more complicated than initially suggested. The film brings out the hypnotist's complicated past - he was struck off for having been involved in a child abuse scandal a few years previously. Persbrandt conveys an air of injured pride, as someone trying to do his job but victimized by circumstances beyond his control.
As the action unfolds, however, so the plot begins to fall apart, leaving plenty of unexplained holes: how does an apparently catatonic patient manage to escape from the hospital and try to stab the hypnotist? Why should the mother of one boy want to kidnap another family's child? And how did she find out about the other family anyway? The film comes to a highly melodramatic conclusion in the frozen wastes of rural Sweden, involving a minivan gradually sinking under the ice and at least one unwanted death.
The film invites us to speculate on the morality of hypnotizing someone so as to obtain information, but loses the courage of its convictions by the end.
This is a decent enough Swedish murder mystery even if it felt more like a television drama than a film made for the cinema. The mystery was interesting enough and there were some twists even if when they are revealed they feel a bit cliché. There is plenty of tension and an impressive finale involving a bus on a frozen lake. The acting is solid without being overly showy with fine performances from Tobias Zilliacus, Mikael Persbrandt and Lena Olin as DI Linna and the Barks. Overall a solid enough Scandi-drama that fans of the genre might enjoy even if it isn't one of the best.
These comments are based on watching the film in Swedish with English subtitles.