Story: Yu Ji-su (Kim Hye-soo) has delusions and eventually has a nervous breakdown. Psychiatrist Seok-won
(Kim Tae-woo) who is treating her in hospital diagnoses a borderline personality disorder. Ji-su really needs
further treatment, but she leaves the hospital as soon as possible. Ji-su's husband Min-seok (Yoo Chan) feels
guilty for his wife's breakdown, because he is having an affair. Yet, he doesn't think about ending his
unfaithfulness and continues to meet his secret mistress.
One year passes. Seok-won meanwhile quit his job at the hospital and established himself with his own private practice. By accident, Seok-won and Ji-su meet again. Now, Ji-su asks the psychiatrist for help as a friend and tells him about her first love before her husband, as well as the tragic ending of this story. Seok-won actually manages to get Ji-su back on the right track, making her feel better by using hypnosis. However, since the psychiatrist recognizes parts of his own life in Ji-su's story, he slowly develops some kind of obsession towards Ji-su. He can't let her go, even when she is healed. He even goes as far as to rape her when she is under hypnosis. His obsession soon becomes a dangerous threat for Ji-su...
Review: "Hypnotized" is a movie about the human mind, delusions, feelings of guilt and obsession. Director Kim In-shik almost reaches a new level of quality concerning the depiction of madness and confusion. Told with impressive pictures, he always manages to blur the border between reality and fiction, and doing so he makes use of a lot of well implemented stylistic devices. You'll make out a lot of symbolism or different colour sets. Kim, however, makes a big mistake. He tries to explore the entanglements of human mind in a film without putting any value on the story itself or a string of ideas. Thus, the end product is rather chaotic and without any point of orientation for the viewer, which makes "Hypnotized" to put it friendly everything but an easy watch.
Already in the first minutes we get to know, that we have to expect an artistically profound movie. When our main protagonist writes herself into a mania, which leads to everyday tools starting to float in the room, then this aren't just inebriating pictures, but we also get to see a reflection of Ji-su's mental condition. When all of the levitating stuff suddenly crashes down and is smashed on the ground, then we realize that this isn't reality anymore and that Ji-su just crossed a line. However, this breakdown only marks the beginning of all the symbolism and pictures we have to work with in order to get some insight into the inner life of the protagonist.
For instance, there are some gloomy black-and-white pictures in the bureau of the psychiatrist, which express the loneliness and self-isolation of this individual. There are also other small details that attest "Hypnotized" an incredible originality, e.g. the stairway to Seok-won's bureau whose stairs operate as a musical scale when walking on them, because its sounds are supposed to cheer up depressive people.
The problem of Kim In-shik's ("Road Movie") newest work lies in the fact that the isolation and melancholy, which is conveyed by the movie's pictures also creates a certain distance between the events on screen and the viewer. This gets even worse when we jump between several time levels and the border between reality and fiction gets more and more blurry, which really doesn't make it easy to follow the film. This becomes even that worse that in the end we can't even be sure if Seok-won really raped the hypnotized Ji-su or if this was merely wishful thinking. Ji-su, who herself labels her stories she is telling the psychiatrist as concoction of lies, really doesn't help us in distinguishing dream from reality either. At least in the latter case we can pretty much be certain that Ji-su's stories are in fact for real and that it's just easier for her to talk about them when she calls them lies. Anyway, in most cases it's not that easy for us to judge what's real and what's not.
The story might not be that genuine, yet it provides us with some nice twists. It's interesting to see that all goes to hell, because Seok-won disregards one of the first rules of a psychiatrist: You never should associate yourself with the stories of your patient. However, since Seok-won does exactly that and now believes that he finally found someone who feels like he does, he develops delusions while Ji-su on the other hand gets healed. Her life takes a turn for the better and even her husband finally starts to take care for her again and ends his adultery.
While at first we take a glance into the abyss of Ji-su's soul, we now see what's hidden deep inside the depths of Seok-won's mind. What we find there may give reasons for some people to ratify the prejudice that psychiatrist themselves suffer from the biggest of psychoses and neuroses...
In a movie that deals with the inner life of the protagonists good actors are quintessential. While most of the time Kim Hye-soo's ("Kick the Moon") naked scenes in the movie are the number one topic for the press, it's above else her acting achievement that deserves to get some recognition. Even though she undoubtfully as one hell of a great body. With ease and great credibility she portrays a woman who is on the edge of madness and every now and then takes a step across this invisible line.
Kim's outstanding acting causes the other actors to look rather shallow which is as true for Yoo Chan as her husband as it is for im Tae-woo, playing the psychiatrist. The latter one at least can radiate some sort of mysterious aura because of his introverted portrayel, if nothing else.
"Hypnotized" offers a lot. With great colours and carefully composed pictures director Kim creates scenes that will remain in your head for quite some while. Even the bed scenes testify the great esthetics of the film. Apart from that there are also some really nice dark and creepy moments. The only question that remains is why the producers didn't also place some value on a good script, that can do justice to the mind-blowing wrapping. The story is presented way too confusing and oftentimes just leaves the viewer in the dark. The ending might also prove to be rather disappointing for some people. What's "Hypnotized" about, anyway? Is it about feelings of guilt or just plain madness? You'll only get some answers if you take pleasure in diving into the mind of people and like to analyze them. However, even those among the audiences will find it somewhat disturbing that the movie has quite too many lengths.
"Hypnotized" is in fact a hypnotizing film. In a positive and negative sense. The grandious pictures take you onto a fascinating trip into a world of melancholy. However, at the same time we also have to find out that the line between being hypnoticing and "somniferous" is quite thin...