Review: Berlin Syndrome

Max Riemelt and Teresa Palmer in Berlin Syndrome

Berlin Syndrome is an Australian thriller about a Australian photographer who heads to Berlin on her own and meets exactly the wrong guy.

The title Berlin Syndrome is meant to remind you of Stockholm Syndrome, because this is a kidnapping story. This kind of story is not my usual fare. I was attracted to it by the star Max Riemelt from Sense8, as well as the female director, Cate Shortland.

The kidnapped woman was played by Teresa Palmer. Andi (Riemelt) didn’t snatch Clare (Palmer). He seduced her slowly. Finally they went to his apartment in a deserted building and had a night of sex. In the morning he went to his job as an English teacher and Clare discovered she was locked in. No one was near enough to hear her calling. Her phone didn’t have a signal.

When Andi got home, he passed off the lock up as an accident and gave her a key. She stayed for another night of sex. The next day he left for work. When she was ready to leave, she discovered the key didn’t work.

Teresa Palmer in Berlin Syndrome

She realized she was his prisoner. He kept her trapped for months. She seemed to accept the situation, but she was always searching for a way to escape. There was a lot of thinking going on behind Clare’s eyes, she was always wary. Andi photographed her in strange, sexual poses. He brought her little gifts and cooked for her.

The movie was close to two hours long and was chiefly Max Riemelt and Teresa Palmer doing the work. Both were convincing and quite capable of carrying the psychological weight of the film between them. Two other minor characters that were important were Matthias Habich as Andi’s father and Emma Bading as one of his students.

Most of the two hours were tense and nerve-jangling, especially as the ending drew closer. Andi grew bored with her and wanted a new seduction, adding to the level of danger for Clare. As Clare grew more desperate, suspense grew more taut.

It didn’t end the way I expected it to end. That was refreshing.

Berlin Syndrome was filmed partly in Germany and partly in Australia. It’s mostly in English with a bit of subtitled German. The 2017 film is now streaming on Netflix US and Berlin Syndrome on Amazon.

Watch the trailer

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