Posted Jun 08 2017

Berlin Syndrome - This Hostage Movie Semi-Rocks

Dir: Cate Shortland

Starring Teresa Palmer, Max Reimelt, Matthias Habich, Emma Bading

Aussie director Cate Shortland draws a strong. empathetic performance from her lead Palmer as a young traveller in Berlin who hooks up with what appears to be a nice poetic teacher, and wakes up in a nightmare. What follows is both a story – and a movie – that moves between gripping tension and the banality of being trapped.

Backpacking photographer Clare meets attractive, sensitive Andi (Reimelt) whilst enjoying a brief sojourn in Berlin. She spends the night at his place and next morning he has gone to work and apparently locked her in. Not the end of the world – she’ll just wait for him to come home after his work in a nearby school. But it is the end of her world, as he slowly reveals himself as a disturbed, psychotic predator, whose flat in an apparently derelict building is not the fashionable statement it appeared to be, but very clearly a place where no one can be heard. Even if screaming for help.

What develops is a mix of high tension, and slowly developed character study. But for every successful moment of fear and worry, Shortland’s film never manages to sustain its premise. Even its title is something of a misnomer – named for the Stockholm Syndrome  (wherein captors develop an association with their captors) but this turns out to never be the case here. So as the film and its central characters appear to progress – it doesn’t.

The bits that work do work. But the rest often misses the mark.


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