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Movie Review: “Forty Winks” – Hypnotism, Drama and a confusing premise.



Forty Winks,written and directed by William Atticus Parker, offers a unique premise that combines elements of crime, comedy, and psychological drama.

It follows the story of Fabio Berker, a struggling hypnotist in New York City, who is blackmailed into becoming the world’s first hypnotist hitman after a mysterious woman discovers his degree is fake. Despite its intriguing concept, the film ultimately falls short in several areas, leaving viewers with a mixed impression.

The film opens with an introduction to Fabio, portrayed by Justin Marcel McManus, and his dire financial situation. His checks are bouncing, and he’s on the brink of eviction. Hypnotism, a skill passed down through generations in his family, is Fabio‘s profession, yet he’s not particularly good at it. His inability to make a living from his trade is both comical and pitiable, setting the stage for his desperate circumstances.

As the narrative unfolds, we see Fabio attempting to land some unexpected big clients like an introverted tech mogul Elmer (played by Henry Kandel) and his intimidating wife Nina (played by Carmen Ejogo). Fabio charges them exorbitantly for a session that ultimately yields no results, and while he initially believes he has gotten away with it, the plot thickens when a mysterious woman appears at his office. She threatens to expose him as a fraud, pushing him into the dangerous role of a hypnotist hitman.

The film’s pacing is steady as it builds up Fabio’s character and his struggles. The voice-over narration provides insights into Fabio’s inner world, although it’s puzzling that the voice doesn’t belong to any of the on-screen characters, including Fabio himself. This choice adds a layer of detachment and mystery but also raises questions about the necessity and effectiveness of this narrative voice.

Carmen Ejogo and Henry Kandel in Forty Winks

Justin Marcel McManus delivers a delightful performance as Fabio. He embodies the character with ease, making Fabio likeable despite his flaws. However, McManus‘s portrayal lacks the depth to convey the character’s internal conflicts and moral dilemmas effectively. The supporting cast offers decent performances, though none particularly stand out.

John Turturro also makes a one-scene appearance in this film as a delivery guy. His character in several ways does seem insignificant to the story being told and even by the time the film ends you are not exactly sure what that character contributes to the narrative of the film besides just filling in some details of Fabio‘s character which is already clear enough.

William Atticus Parker’s decision to filmForty Winks in black and white is an interesting stylistic choice. The clean shots and contemporary setting make it clear that the film is not a period piece but rather an artistic endeavour. This choice gives the film an artsy feel, almost experimental, which might appeal to a niche audience. However, it also gives it a film school project vibe, as if it’s an exploration of an idea rather than a fully realized feature.

One of the film’s major shortcomings is its writing. While the narrative has moments of intelligence and brilliance, these elements are not effectively communicated, leaving much of the potential impact lost on the audience. Even after a second viewing, the supposed depth and brilliance remain elusive. The writing could have been clearer in conveying the underlying themes and messages, ensuring that even the most uninterested viewer could appreciate the film’s intent.

Justin Marcel McManus in Forty Winks


Even though the film is categorized as a blend of comedy, drama, and crime,Forty Winks leans heavily towards drama. The comedic elements are sparse and not strong enough to elicit hearty laughter, while the crime aspect is overshadowed by Fabio’s personal struggles and moral quandaries. The story’s humour feels forced, and the overall tone is more melancholic than funny.

Forty Winks may not leave a lasting impression on many viewers. It’s hard not to compare it to William Atticus Parker’s previous work,Atrabilious,which seemed better written and more emotionally engaging.Forty Winksfeels more mechanical, lacking the emotional connection needed to elevate its unique premise.

I would score this film 5/10. While it has moments of intrigue and okay performance from its lead, it ultimately fails at hypnotizing the viewer enough to make its themes and messages clear

Second on my list of addictions is Movies.. the only thing I could possibly love more is my Dearest Waakye lol. Nothing else does a better job of reminding me that ANYTHING is possible with the right amount of effort. I have great eye for details and flaws in scripts. Shallow scripts bore me. I am an avid reader. Your everyday Mr Nice guy. Always the last to speak in a room full of smart people. Half Human, half Martian but full MOVIE FREAK.

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