Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

South Korean Director In-shik Kimís ĎHypnotizedí is one of the more gorgeously filmed movies Iíve ever seen, and is also one of the more confusing and unfocused films Iíve ever seen as well.  Some of the things though only began to make sense the next day however after Iíve had some time to ponder what I had just seen, and that usually doesnít please my overly simple sel;f as I prefer to let movies go after I watch them, but this one refused to leave.

The insanely alluring Hye-su Kim plays Ji-su, a woman who skitters on the very edge of sanity as she sits in her room and churns out rejected novel after rejected novel.  No longer able to maintain her tenuous grip on her sanity, she falls off that cliff forcing her husband Min-Seok (Chang Yun) to have her committed for a spell. Ji-suís attending physician, Dr. Seok Won (Tae-woo Kim) has his own major issues heís dealing with but does what he can to help Ji-su and the rest of his patients.  Seok Won soon announces heís leaving the clinic to start his own practice and Ji-su asks if she can leave the hospital as well.  Seok Won informs her that she is not a prisoner and is free to go, he just request that she continues her treatments at the clinic.  She doesnít because sheís flat nuts.  And hot as hell.

A year or so later the good doctor runs into Ji-su again at a supermarket and informally begins treating her again and despite her incredibly erratic behavior begins to fall in love with the woman.  Hard.  Ji-su is dealing with a failing marriage as her husband is having an affair with a work mate, but Ji-Su is still in love with a man whom she gave her heart to in the past, which prompted her failed novel writing in the first place.  But despite her issues, they actually pale in comparison to her Doctor Min-Seok who has all kinds of problems as well, including the most gross misuse of his Doctorís privilege, particularly his skill as a hypnotist, that probably has ever been fictionally recorded.  Things begin to spiral out of control rather quickly for the Doctor as his obsession of Ji-su takes on a life of itís own completely encompassing the mans life.  And when one experiences an obsession of this nature, it generally doesnít resolve itself in a very nice and friendly way.

This is a film that in order to truly absorb all that Director Kim is attempting to show you, one may have to watch this film a dozen times.  Iím not one to view a movie more than once, so thatís not going happen leaving me to ponder the images Iíve seen in one solitary viewing.  The director is playing with color and sound and shadows in a way the lets you know that there is far more going than simply what is coming out of the actors mouths.  The overall look and feel of the film is very stylish and is somewhat reminiscent of ĎBody Heatí with characters spending a lot of time in shadowy conditions, more than likely representing their shadowy intentions.  Or something.  However, if the story becomes too confusing or becomes too difficult to follow then you can always just stare at the screen and watch actress Hse-su Kim in various stages of undress.  If one of the goals of the director was to film his lead actress in a way to make her as physically attractive as possible, crazy to point of being almost impossible to live with, yet still make it damn near impossible to imagine life without her, then he certainly succeeded.  When her husband, despite the fact that his wife basically drove him into arms of another woman, when faced with the possibility of divorce goes, he haywire, and I believed that.  When the Doctor slowly becomes possessively obsessive with the woman who has little physical attraction to him, I believed his possession as well.  So why is this?  Yes, Hse-su Kim has a great figure and is crazy good looking, but so are a lot of women.  In an amazing performance, one she quite honestly could have pulled off without removing a single stitch (canít believe I just typed that), itís how the character carries herself and the use of her eyes which seem to cut through all of your lies that makes her so alluring and irresistible.   Kimís performance alone, not just her lips, eyes, ass and breasts, rates Hypnotizedí as a must watch.

But none of this helps clear up a lot of the confusion, that at least kept me from getting full enjoyment from this film, which was about as technically proficient as any film Iíve seen.  I will belie discussing some of my confusion because it may spoil some things for those who will have a deeper understanding of the narrative, but without the benefit of multiple viewings, it seems as if I will be in left in the dark.  Still, with the amazing atmosphere and Hse-su Kimís equally incredible performance, ĎHypnotizedí is yet another film out of South Korea that separates itself from the pack.

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