Kino immer anders

A couple, André and Vera, have founded a female health app. Their successful launch earns them an esteemed invitation to a prestigious competition. But shortly before leaving for the competition Vera tries hypnotherapy and everything changes. Vera suddenly behaves in convention-defying ways and increasingly puts André in uncomfortable social situations until everything gets out of hand. In his bizarre, awkward, and funny feature film debut THE HYPNOSIS (Orig. Hypnosen) Ernst de Geer explores the freeing or maybe not so freeing awkwardness of being one’s authentic self.

What is the Hypnosis about?

We kind of wanted to explore this idea of someone turning more into themselves and how the people around them would react. I feel like I myself have a lot of inhibitions that keep me from being myself with most people. Maybe I can be myself when I’m in a close relationship. But it’s really hard to act out what you truly feel. So, we kind of wanted to explore this and not be like judgmental like “okay it’s always good to be yourself”. This film is more about exploring it from different points of views. And letting the audience not really be sure.

Ok, I see. Do you think the strict societal expectations on how to behave is typical for your culture rather a universal thing?

Maybe it looks a certain way in some cultures but in all cultures, you need to have some kind of unwritten rules for how people are supposed to act. And of course, in some cultures it’s a bit stronger but it is a universal thing. I mean of course it’s a Scandinavian thing with people really being like introverted. But that’s also something that hopefully people from other countries can relate to.

I was also a bit surprised on the gender dynamics in the film. To me it came as a surprise that it was the female protagonist, Vera, who was the one that broke the societal expectations. Was that a purposeful?

It’s purposeful in a way. We are two men who wrote the film. From the beginning on the film kind of had a male perspective. The characters are both main characters, but we were always interested in the man that thinks he doesn’t carry any judgment, who thinks he is very like knowledgeable on gender dynamics. So that was purposeful, having this woman freed.

To me it seemed that there were feminist undertones in the film as the app is targeting women’s health. And then the protagonist brings up that he has headaches once a month as a reaction to a woman talking about her health issues. This reminded me of the menstrual cycle. So, to me there is a feminist take in the film and it’s interesting to hear that it was written by two men.

But that’s what we kind of wanted to explore. The man who sees himself as a feminist but also has a hard time to live up to that when push comes to shove.

The humor is also very prevalent in this film. It is based very much on awkwardness and uncomfortableness. Have you been in similar situations that inspired you?

Maybe it’s a very Scandinavian thing but for me at least I’m a very awkward person so I kind of like those situations, I think they are funny. For me it can be kind of freeing seeing people not knowing how to act on film. Because it’s very difficult to know how to act in real life. So, it can be kind of funny to put it on film and see it from an outside perspective. I didn’t experience the same exact situations as in the film but of course you put your feelings from real life into the film and you try to find other situations that explore the same thing.

In regards to the current media landscape, it seems as if we are constantly monitored and judged. In this context this movie seems more relevant than ever?

This wasn’t something we thought about but of course we live in times in which it’s very easy to see ourselves from the outside. We can also know how other people see us. So, I definitely think that this is very much in the “now”. The film is very much about them portraying a version of themselves and maybe even lying about who they are.

This was your first time directing a feature film. How did that feel?

It’s the first feature film, but I’ve done short films before. It’s kind of similar work, just that it’s longer. But I like the feature film format. For me it’s the most natural format to work in. I like watching other films. It’s kind of easier to work in this one hour and a half to two hours format. That’s what I’ve seen the most. The short film format was more unnatural.

What do you mean with more natural? Because it’s the convention?

I don’t know just the storytelling, how long the story has to be. I’ve just watched more feature films than short films. For me, I just like that format of telling a story, it kind of makes sense for me. You have some time for the beginning, middle and end. With short films you have to be so direct, you have to be so short. I just thought it was fun. And you kind of have some time to makes some choices while shooting the film. Usually when you are making a short film, you’re just up there filming for three days and you can’t really say at day two “oh I’d like the character to be this way instead”. Because at day two you’ve already done half of the film. So, when you’re making a longer film it’s kind of a bit more organic and you are more in the story when you are shooting.

For THE HYPNOSIS did you take inspirations from other directors for your filmmaking style?

I think I was inspired by a lot of other directors. I always liked the Coen brothers a lot. So, they were an early inspiration for what kind of films I want to make. They make dark comedies, but their characters always carry some warmth in them. So, I always liked them. But there were a lot of movies that inspired this film, I mean more or less directly or indirectly. We also looked at Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage.

For THE HYPNOSIS you worked as a director and as a writer. For you personally as a director is it necessary to have worked on the script as well for the movie you direct?

I could imagine also just directing if the script is really good. But for me it’s easier to direct when you have also been part of the writing process. You just know so much more about the characters and about everything that is not in the script. When you are receiving a script, it’s a different kind of work. You have to work in a different way. You have to really read the script and find out what’s behind the scenes and what’s underneath it. But if you’ve written it, you know all of this intuitively.

I found the performances of the leading actors, Herbert Nordrum and Asta Kamma August, phenomenal. I was wondering as there are so many awkward scenes that might be awkward to film, as to how do you direct actors so well? Or how do you direct them, so they are comfortable?

The three of us had a nice climate to work in. It was never awkward for them, even though the scene was awkward. We always felt like we were simply having fun or playing. We were trying to create an atmosphere in which we were just trying our best. One big thing was not knowing the perfect answer to having this perfect image of a scene but rather like trying things. It was a group effort trying to find out if we can do it this way or that way. And the three of us have a close work relationship. That was kind of the key for me.

How do you look back on your first feature film?

I think I’m happy. I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want to work on this film anymore. I have to move on, I guess. If I could, I would change everything. That’s just how I work. But I kind of have to leave it behind. But I’m very proud of the film. But it’s not like I can watch it now. I’m not like everything is perfect. If I’d be watching it now, I would think that everything is terrible. I would do everything differently. But that’s fine, I think. That’s why I have to do another film.

By Kim Spieser

Weitere Filmkritiken