While holidaying in Berlin, Australian photojournalist 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 suddenly 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.
Despite all the moaning we hear about the objectification of women in the media, it often seems that films directed by women are just as likely as those directed by men to require the female stars to do a disproportionate share of any nudity. Cate Shortland's 'Berlin Syndrome' is a perfect example: lead actress Teresa Palmer is frequently expected to go topless, show her backside, or pose in lacy underwear; whereas her male co-star, Max Riemelt (currently throbbing hearts in 'Sense8'), pretty much gets away with only taking his shirt off a couple of times (he does get his bum out once, but it is shot from such an oblique angle you do not really see anything). Strange.
Anyway, the plot: Australian photographer Clare (Palmer) is travelling around Berlin taking pictures of communist architecture and buying spectacularly ugly dresses when she bumps into schoolteacher Andi (Riemelt). She goes back to his isolated flat for a bit of how's-your-father but the next morning, after Andi has gone to work, Clare finds he has locked her in. A simple mistake, or something more sinister?
The running time of the film is just under two hours, but it seems a lot longer than that: this film drags. Sub-plots involving Andi's students and his father aside, much of the film is a two-hander between Clare and Andi, in the claustrophobic confines of the latter's flat, and neither character is interesting enough to sustain the attention. Acting-wise, Palmer does well in her portrayal of Clare's veering between anger and despair; Riemelt is less impressive, although this may be because a) for much of the film he is acting in English, obviously not his mother tongue; and b) although some effort has been made to flesh out Andi's character (the afore-mentioned students and father), in essence he is simply the standard movie obsessive loner.
Add to the mixture a resolution that is very inadequately explained, and you get a rather unsatisfying film. Not, I am afraid, one for a repeat viewing.
18 of 40 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this