It’s an age-old story: Directors establish themselves abroad, then Hollywood's doors swing wide and virtually no one is impervious to her lucrative charms. More often than not, they’re chewed up and spit out (George Sluizer, Oliver Hirschbiegel) or they flourish and slowly but surely lose their original aesthetic (Paul Verhoeven).
Lasse Hallström, in 2011, finds himself squarely in that second category. The lyric beauty of early Swedish successes (namely "My Life as a Dog") resurfaces periodically in studio films ("What’s Eating Gilbert Grape," "Chocolat") but overall the term ‘A Lasse Hallström Film’ now has all the specific potency of "A drama… or some sort."
With the announcement of "The Hypnotist" – Hallström’s first Swedish film in 24 years – our collective ears have significantly pricked at the sound of his name. The mystery/thriller follows Swedish detective Joona Linna who teams up with a famous psychologist to plumb the depths of a young traumatized witness’ mind.
Mikael Persbrandt ("In a Better World") is set to play Linna and now it seems he’ll be joined by Tobias Zilliacus ("Iris") and actress Lena Olin. Olin and Hallström have worked together previously on three films ("Casanova," "The Cider House Rules," "Chocolat" -- it certainly doesn't hurt that she's married to him) and she’s always been an actress that - when paired with the right role and director - radiates a deep sultry intensity.
The Hypnotist is the first in a series of eight dark Swedish mystery novels that have all been optioned for feature adaptation. The author is, of course, the late Stiig Lar…oh, excuse me, Lars Kepler actually, a pseudonym for husband and wife writing team Alexander Ahndoril and Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril. Despite the strong scent of shameless 'Dragon Tattoo' revivalism, the cast and crew gathering behind The Hypnotist may make a more humanistic, sensitively directed antidote to the mainstream masochism of Stieg Larsson…
Whether or not that’s a good thing will have to wait. "The Hypnotist" is slated to hit theaters in Sweden in October 2012. [BloodyDisgusting]