After a young woman and her parents are murdered by a killer determined to wipe out the entire family, Detective Inspector Joona Linna works with a psychiatrist to hypnotize the son who narrowly escaped death in order to find the one surviving daughter before the murderer does. Written by
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With a big budget and two star actors including Mikael Persbrandt (from BECK fame), THE HYPNOTIST has everything going for it.
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.
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