“The Hypnosis” is a 98-minute Swedish/Norwegian/French film from Director/Co-writer Ernst DeGeer. Mads Stegger collaborated on the witty script, an entry in the New Directors’ Competition. The film is described as “a satire of entrepreneurial culture.”
A young Scandinavian couple, Andre Sandru (Herbert Nordrum) and Vera Joseffson (Asta Kamma August), are pitching their start-up company at something called Shake Up. Shake Up brings young entrepreneurs together to pitch their unique ideas to investors. Vera and Andre have created an app that will help improve female health named Epione after the Greek goddess of health.
The couple’s entire pitch is built on a lie. Vera starts off their presentation with the story of her first period and how her hemophilia made it life-threatening. Vera doesn’t have hemophilia; she has claimed to suffer from it to craft a catchy opening for their joint pitch.
When Vera tells that opening story, Julian (David Fukanachi Regnfors) is impressed. He compliments her, finding her presentation natural, heartfelt and affecting. When Anerdre begins his portion of the joint pitch, however, Julian interrupts him, criticizing Andre’s delivery and his guarded body language. After Vera’s opening, Julian says, “But what came after that. Just no. You’re an amusement park of nervous gestures.” In a “Variety” interview, Director De Geer said, “I think from the beginning I was most interested in what would happen if someone close to me suddenly started to act different. I wanted to explore the feeling of second-hand embarrassment in a close relationship, and how suffocating that can be for the other person and, it turns out, also for the person feeling the embarrassment.”
Vera had been hypnotized shortly before the couple’s big day at Shake Up for her smoking. Because of her visit to Kungshelmen’s Hypnotherapy, like Jim Carrey in the 1997 film “Liar Liar,” Vera begins being completely truthful. When Andre inquires of the hypnosis firm what, exactly, they have done to his live-in love, the hypnotists explain that hypnosis is just a tool to alter patterns.
Things go South at Shake Up. The relationship between Andre and Vera, who have been together 6 years, is negatively impacted. Vera becomes a madcap devil-may-care semi-loon. She engages in behavior that is so different from her normal self that Andre even says, “She’s just having a little psychoses.” Situations become weird and zany.
The film may be poking fun at hypocritical commercial gatherings like Shake Up, but it also, ultimately, underscores the truth of Andre’s remark about relationships: “Find someone that you’re happy being together.” Andre considers his own words during a photo op and makes a dramatic decision to try to salvage their troubled relationship.
In a gesture of apology and reconciliation, Andre, at film’s end, out-does Vera in the psychotic behavior department. That’s putting it mildly.(Oh, those wacky Scandinavian lovers says the reviewer with a Norwegian-from-the-Old-Country maternal grandfather, Ole Monson!)
Along the way, the audience laughed loudly at the clever script and the surprise ending.
“The Hypnosis” was a fun film at the 59th Chicago International Film Festival.