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The Hypnosis by Ernst De Geer

The Hypnosis

The Hypnosis (Hypnosen) is the first feature by Ernst De Geer. It was one of the films presented by Film i Väst in Cannes 2022. Then, it was described as a film about Vera (Asta Kamma August) and André (Herbert Nordrum), who will pitch their startup business at a prestigious competition. Right before, Vera tries hypnotherapy to quit smoking, with a highly unexpected side effect. The business in question is a female health app. We see the couple preparing, with Vera telling the story of how scared she was when she got her first period at 11, and only after telling her mother she realised that she was suffering from haemophilia.

The couple’s app, Epione, is designed to help women keep track of their periods to avoid complications. It is stressed over and over that the app is designed with the aim of aiding women in impoverished countries. Already, while watching the pitch in the opening scene, we understand that Vera’s background story is fake. Still, it’s mentioned moments later as if the film was springing a surprise on us. Later, Vera visits the aforementioned hypnotherapist (Karin de Frumerie), who starts asking about topics other than smoking. Vera reveals other issues, such as doing things only because they are expected of her. The hypnotherapist suggests “something radical”. At that point, I wished someone had proposed the same to the director.

The Hypnosis Hypnosen
David Fukamachi Regnfors as the pitch coach in The Hypnosis.

If anyone in the audience would have any doubts that the therapy had an effect on Vera, we will literally see her floating above the ground right after the treatment. From then on, her behaviour will become more unruly. Before the actual competition, the couple will attend a pitching course led by Julian (David Fukamachi Regnfors). How will that end up, considering André’s inhibited behaviour and Vera’s new-found uninhibited approach? More or less exactly as you would expect. The way the film was described, I was thinking about something along the lines of Kristoffer Borgli’s excellent Sick of Myself (Syk pike 2022), where the main protagonist was willing to do anything to achieve her goals.

Who is The Hypnosis for?

Instead, The Hypnosis is a work that is much closer to the weirdly popular The Worst Person in the World (Verdens verste menneske 2021), which also featured Herbert Nordrum in a major role. If that was a rom-com in arthouse clothing, here we are dealing with something dressed up as satire. It is not easy to describe what that something would be, possibly some kind of comedy, but there is neither laughter nor insight when all the points are so conspicuous, without any surprises. A late reveal will hardly shock anyone. The film feels as profound and sincere as Vera’s pitch and is never as funny as any Pitch Meeting.

So, who is this film for? A reasonable guess is that people who liked The Worst Person in the World would find some enjoyment in this first feature. Nordrum won the award for Best Actor at the Karlovy Vary Festival, so his fans might have a head start as well. From a cinematic point of view, there is not much to write home about either. The look of the film is serviceable but rarely intriguing.

Seen at the Black Nights Film Festival in the Best of Festivals section.

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