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.
If you are hanging out for a good thriller with real style then this will capture you as surely as the girl at the centre of the story is caught.
Clare (Teresa Palmer), a young Aussie tourist travelling alone in Berlin meets handsome Andi (Max Riemelt). They have a one-night stand in his apartment in a rundown neighbourhood of Berlin. However when she goes to leave next morning she finds that Andi is a man with unexpected interests and likes having her around so much that she isn't going anywhere.
"Berlin Syndrome" has been compared to "The Collector", the old William Wyler movie with Terrance Stamp, but that was an overly mannered number compared to this.
If the film reminds me of any other, it would be "Something Wild" starring Carroll Baker and Ralph Meeker as the kept and the keeper. Made in 1961, there are big differences, but that film had a dose of Stockholm syndrome before we realised there was a Stockholm syndrome (named in 1973).
Of course the Stockholm syndrome is a theme in the "Berlin Syndrome" and if I have any criticism it is that the title "Berlin Syndrome" is a bit too obvious for a film that takes a fresh approach in nearly every other way.
Director Cate Shortland ("Somersault", "Lore") tells her stories as much visually as she does verbally; she isn't afraid of silence, and her choice of actors is inspired.
Teresa Palmer is disarming. Her Clare is a little shy, but she also invests her with sexiness, and feistiness. Her character epitomises those youthful, adventurous spirits that parents wave off at airports all over the world hoping that nothing like what happens to Clare will befall them.
Good looking Max Riemelt's Andi seems so intelligent and grounded at first that it is a surprise when his true nature is exposed; perfect casting against type.
"Berlin Syndrome" oozes quality from the engaging actors to great locations, photography and an understated, atmospheric score. Cate Shortland has cast just as fresh an eye on the psychological drama/thriller genre as Canadian Denis Villeneuve did on "Prisoners".
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