While holidaying in Berlin, Australian photographer, Clare, meets Andi, a charismatic local man and there is an instant attraction between them. A night of passion ensues. But what initially appears to be the start of a romance, takes an unexpected and sinister turn when Clare wakes the following morning to discover Andi has left for work and locked her in his apartment. An easy mistake to make, of course, except Andi has no intention of letting her go again. Ever.
Have you ever heard of Stockholm Syndrome? No? Trust me, it’s a real thing. Stockholm syndrome is a condition that causes hostages to develop a psychological alliance with their captors as a survival strategy during captivity. These alliances, resulting from a bond formed between captors and captives during intimate time spent together, are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims. The FBI’s Hostage Barricade Database System and Law Enforcement Bulletin show that roughly 8% of victims show evidence of Stockholm syndrome. Just Google it if you don’t trust my word or you’re unsure what it is, this movie will make much more sense knowing the definition of Stockholm syndrome.
I would not call this horror by any means, but Berlin Syndrome was a very good and intense thriller drama. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Max Reimelt in anything before, but I enjoyed watching him and he played this part very well. His role was extremely believable as a psychotic person, and he was just flat out creepy the entire time. Teresa Palmer, on the other hand, seems to play every role she takes on with complete perfection. It’s always a joy to watch her as she brings her character to life, making them seem as real as you and I. She’s quickly becoming one of my favorite actresses with her always realistic acting.
We get the sense from the start that Clare might end up like countless other helpless victims whose curiosity always tends to get the best of them as we find Clare and Andi meeting for the first time and they stroll through a garden when Andi tells her it’s a good place to ‘complicate’ life. It’s not long before Clare foolishly agrees to go with Andi to his apartment where he tells her she can be as loud as she wants during sex because no one will hear her. She spends the next day locked in his apartment thinking he just forgot to give her a key in case she needed to leave. Then that night she willingly returns with him to his place after a night out at a disco. She quickly realizes that she is permanently locked in Andi’s apartment and begins to find traces that other women that he has kidnapped.
When Andi imprisons Clare for what feels like a very long time, and after she repeated and failed several attempts to get out, she develops Stockholm Syndrome, as I briefly described above. After being a hostage for awhile she begins to cooperate with her captor, Andi, as a survival strategy so that she can escape. Clare does the cooking and cleaning, and she’s even learning how to play an instrument while being friendly to Andi. Clare did not know that Andi was a psychopath when they met, and certain scenes were actually hard to watch at times because of the disturbing premise of the situation Clare is in.
I found it a bit far-fetched how Andi goes about his days keeping up the whole charade thing without getting caught, and how Clare remains captured in a whole apartment without finding any way to escape. It’s also interesting is that we don’t simply follow Clare for the duration of the film, but just as often see how Andi is spending his day. It’s an interesting division of screen time that frequently has the audience seeing a scene from Andi’s point of view as he arrives home; we wonder along with him what Clare has been up to while he’s been gone all day. It’s a strangely fun viewing experience watching him examine the apartment for anything amiss or askew. The ending will come as no surprise, but by the time it’s over both characters will linger in your thoughts.
Title: Berlin Syndrome
Release Date: May 26, 2017
Runtime: 1 hour, 56 minutes
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Drama
Studio: Lionsgate Films
Starring: Teresa Palmer, Max Riemelt, Matthias Habich
MPAA Rated: R
Directors: Cate Shortland
Reviewed by: Kathryn Price
Our Rating: 3.2 /5
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