The film The Ideal Patient is directed by Swedish director Mikael Hofström, who works in Hollywood. Hofström already has a dozen high-quality films, an Oscar nomination and an award for best screenplay in his previous works. The main direction of this director’s work is a psychological thriller, which he once again confirms with the example of this film.
The picture is based on real events and caused a flurry of completely different emotions among the audience. However, another film was submitted for the Oscars by Sweden. Apparently, the commission considered this story not bright enough for an Oscar, although the picture still took two awards at the Golden Bug 2020 ceremony.
What is The Ideal Patient about?
The movie tells the story of a real person, Sture Bergwall, who came up with the pseudonym Thomas Quick. Sture was born in 1950 and lived in Sweden, since 1993 he was accused of more than 30 murders and imprisoned in a psychiatric hospital. Thomas Quick confessed to all the crimes committed, but in 2008 he withdrew all his charges and filed an appeal.
After five years of consideration, all charges against Quick were dropped for lack of evidence, since his guilt was determined in the past primarily by Quick’s full confession on all episodes. The case was unraveled by the journalist Hannes Rastam, whose role in the film was played by the Swedish screenwriter and actor Jonas Karlsson.
For this role, Karlsson was nominated for the Golden Beetle award, but in the end, his colleague on the set, David Densik, became the winner of the Best Actor award. Spectators could observe Densik’s masterful ability to transform in one of his previous films “Chernobyl”, where the actor had to reincarnate as a famous person – Mikhail Gorbachev.
The meaning of the film
In the picture, Densik shows the alleged maniac as a calm and ordinary citizen, tired of such a long sitting in a closed clinic. The most surprising fact of this story is the bewilderment of psychiatrists and forensic experts who have been trying for years to unravel the motives for the behavior of the protagonist. And most importantly – why he took the blame for all these murders.
The film raises several important psychological questions, many of which, as is customary in such films, are addressed to the viewer. One of the questions is the price of modern justice. How practically unproven cases ended up being closed, and the alleged defendant was automatically labeled “guilty” just on the basis of his testimony and his guilty plea. Is it even worth revisiting such old cases?
It remains for the viewer to try to understand the motives of Thomas Quick’s act – why did a person take on such serious crimes if he did not actually commit them. And the dilemma completes all this psychologism – is it worth giving such a person a chance for a new life and is it worth letting him out of the hospital at all.
The motives of the hero’s behavior
The picture begins with a quote from the Swedish writer Hjalmar Söderberg from Doctor Glas, which slightly opens the veil of the inadequate act of the protagonist, who took on someone else’s fault. The author says that all people want to be loved. There is no love – for at least admiration to be present.
At the extreme, people want to evoke fear or hatred with contempt. The absence of at least some feeling is what is detrimental to a person. Forgetfulness is what is scary for the human soul, so any methods are good for building connections. By this, the authors of the film show their vision of this situation – the main character wanted to be noticed, he could not stand oblivion and loneliness. He hoped at least in the role of a maniac to become popular and recognizable.
Is attracting attention to oneself at such a price considered a mental disorder in forensic medicine? Without a doubt, yes. But whether such a person should be given a second chance to start a new life should be decided by a special commission of expert psychiatrists.
The meaning of the film’s ending
The Ideal Patient is a story that does not just happen, but takes place in real time, because the main character, Sture Bergvall or Thomas Quick, still lives in Sweden after his release from their psychiatric clinic in 2013. Sture is currently 70 years old. Despite the fact that many of the materials of his case are confidential and classified, there are open facts for the general public.
One such fact is the recognition of doctors that Bergwall no longer needs the medicines that he was treated with in the clinic and does not pose a threat to society. The finale of the film to some extent shows the triumph of justice and the fact that it can be restored even after 20 years. This case gives hope for the correct operation of the entire justice system as a whole and that justice will be based more on the facts of the cases than on the confessions of the defendants themselves.
And how much the public will perceive Thomas Quick as an ordinary citizen and how much people will accept his “probable adequacy and lack of threat to themselves” will have to be decided by the society itself. After all, Quick, although a former patient in a psychiatric clinic, is far from “ideal”, as the authors of the film present him.