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Twice nominated for a best director Oscar (for My Dog Skip and The Cider House Rules), Swedish filmmaker Lasse Hallström has made a name for himself partly by making delightfully wry—if occasionally cringe-worthy—romances and dramas, most notably Chocolat, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, and Something to Talk About. Recently, however, Hallström’s found himself sinking to new levels of desperation, adapting not one, but two Nicholas Sparks novels, Dear John and Safe Haven. All of this is most curious considering his latest, The Hypnotist, is a stark and grisly procedural that resembles above all else the early work of David Fincher. Following the brutal slaying of a family of four—save for the oldest son, who’s left hospitalized—Detective Joona Linna partners up with a shamed psychiatrist who specializes in hypnosis in order to unlock clues from the comatose survivor. Though the plot veers into James Patterson territory, Hallström’s atmospheric direction and Mattias Montero’s subtly stark cinematography help keep the murky, uneven plot in check. Still, while the film falls victim to a host of crime story clichés, the crimes committed in the film are less grisly than the thought of Hallström adapting another damn Nicholas Sparks novel.