Berlin Syndrome is an Australian psychological drama directed by Cate Shortland and starring Teresa Palmer and Max Riemelt in leading roles.
Clare (Palmer) is an aspiring photographer who is backpacking in Berlin. She meets Andi (Riemelt) on her travels and the two have a one-night fling. In the morning, Clare discovers that Andi has left for work and has locked her in his apartment. Initially Clare believes this was accidental, but she soon discovers Andi has no intention of letting her leave.
The film gains intensity as we see Clare attempt escape multiple times, which in turn leads Andi to increase the coercion and force he uses to keep her hostage. The film’s title is an obvious reference to Stockholm Syndrome, where feelings of affection develop between captor and victim. The viewer glimpses such moments during the film, where despite the repressive conditions she’s trapped in, Clare displays apparent care for Andi. Many scenes are left to the viewer’s interpretation – are there truly moments of connection between the two, or is it a ploy?
The viewer witnesses the psychological decline of both characters – as the film progresses Andi sinks deeper into instability, manipulation and violence as Clare becomes increasingly distressed and withdrawn. This comes to a crux during the particularly drawn-out yet satisfying ending. The masterful camerawork allows the viewer insight into both Andi and Clare’s mindset and their complicated interactions. The scenes themselves build momentum and gradually become more insidious, with a few palpable depictions of the emotional and physical abuse of Clare - as such, this film clearly isn’t for everyone. However, the skilful acting and direction ensure that this film extends far beyond your typical drama. If a clever, intense psychological thriller sounds up your alley, make sure you catch Berlin Syndrome, out April 20.
All images via Berlin Syndrome's IMDB.