DVD Review: Lasse Hallström Does Nordic Noir With THE HYPNOTIST

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The Hypnotist is another Nordic Noir, a thriller that continues the trend for dark and gritty Scandinavian dramas that seep atmosphere.  Acclaimed director Lasse Hallström helms this well composed piece that follows a police investigation into a triple murder which sees three members of a family killed in two separate attacks.

Hallstrom is an Oscar nominated director who has brought a lot of prestige pictures like The Cider House Rules and Chocolat in the US. He also cut his movie making teeth on early ABBA videos. The Hypnotist shows that he knows how to weave an intricate thriller, as well as teasing interesting performances out of his actors. He takes what could have been a generic thriller and adds a touch of class, helping to make it appear to have much more weight that it actually does. It’s an impressive cinematic sleight of hand, but it’s a trick that works. Even left field plot revelations and twists in the last act can’t ruin the edge-of-seat tension (although it stops it from being a true genre classic).

Tobias Zilliacus plays the over ernest cop, the loose cannon eager to track down the killer at any cost, while Mikael Åke Persbrandt is Erik Maria Bark, the titular hypnotist who is brought onto the case in order to tease forgotten information from the only remaining witness. The duo do well in roles that we’ve seen in this genre before. Zilliacus’ character is always at odds with his superiors, while Persbrandt plays the tortured genius who reluctantly uses his skills to solve the crime. Lena Olin (who gets top billing on the DVD cover) meanwhile, stars as his long suffering wife, who knows that her husband’s gift is causing him distress.

Hallstrom’s film is based on a novel by Lars Kepler and the film does feel like an adaptation. There are a lot of plot threads weaving throughout The Hypnotist and these often distract from the film’s main narrative. The film perhaps could have used a trim in the editing room to help it flow a little freer on the screen. Having said that, it’s better that the film is a little over-stuffed then feeling underdeveloped.

The Hypnotist is an entertaining thriller from a talented director, with good performances from its cast. It hits the right genre touchstones, right down to the tense finale. It might lack in the originality and plausibility departments, but this is still worth watching.

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