The Hypnosis is a Swedish film that first debuted at the Riga International Film Festival 2023. Ernst De Geer was able to bring a remarkably well-made dark comedy for their feature directional debut. A comedy that tackles social norms while also using dry and cringe humour to its advantage to make the film a very humorous one in a unique way.
The Hypnosis tells the story of young couple André (Herbert Nordrum) and Vera (Asta August) who are also Co-Founders of an app called “Epione” which they get an opportunity to take to a pitch competition. On the Eve of the competition, Vera decides to go to a hypnotherapist to help her quit smoking, but that also comes with its side effects.
The film starts off with Vera practicing for the start of their pitch, going into detail about her first period and how she has Hemophilia, which causes it not to clot properly and leaves the blood flowing continuously. While telling this story, there are moments where she struggles with pronunciation as she’s telling this story in English. We get to see a bit of how André is a character with his reactions to her messing up and how he interrupts her during interviews. André as a character is no better than Vera but with allowing her to mess up or doubt herself, it makes him look better.
Later on in the film, Vera goes to see a Hypnotherapist to help her quit smoking, while she uses this as the reason, it truly seems like she’s going to the hypnotherapist to help with the issues she deals with socially, with her boyfriend and with everyone else around her. Once she sees the hypnotherapist, her behaviour starts to suddenly change with her being very erratic with her decisions but also in a way that seems freeing for her, being able to make her own decisions and doing what feels right instead of just staying on the sideline and being told what to do.
The film tends to use Vera as the main comedic central piece and while the moments with her can be funny, it damages her character and makes it a struggle to take this film’s message on gender roles seriously. This doesn’t go well as her behavioural change also brings around a lot of embarrassing moments like her pretending to look after an invisible dog. A lot of the decisions she makes seem to be in spite of André and this eventually starts to affect him as he feels the second-hand embarrassment from her.
Not knowing how to handle this situation and having absolutely no clue what’s changed with Vera, André goes about it in the worst way possible and at this point in the film, you truly realise what the film is about. Throughout the film, it’s hard to tell what the focus of it is, is it the app they’re working on together, or is it to do with the big pitch that’s coming up? The main focus of the film is not on any of those things but on André and Vera’s relationship. It isn’t until after all the chaos that takes place do they truly realise how to work together as a couple.
The Hypnosis is a wonderful addition to the London Film Festival lineup. While the film can be confusing on what’s taking place, Ernst De Geer knows what he’s going for and truly drives the film onwards with its smart humour that at times can seem cringy and hard to watch, but at the same time, never fails to make you laugh. Though the script is strong in certain places with its humour, it also fails at the messages it’s trying to convey and doesn’t give full justice to Vera’s character.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5