Beka P., here….
Intense. Berlin Syndrome is hold onto your seat, bite your nails, cover your face- intense. The premise of this film may seem far-fetched to some, but it happens more than we would like to accept. The film follows a young Australian photographer, Clare, as she travels to Berlin and meets a handsome stranger, Andi. She ends up going home with him, and by morning she has become a prisoner in his home. The best part about this film compared to other films that have addressed abductions or the relationships between captives and captors is how it unfolds. The beginning of the film, while somewhat slow, is paralleled to how Clare realizes she’s trapped. And then it hits you, as it hits her, and there’s no going back.
Clare, played by Teresa Palmer (Hacksaw Ridge, Triple 9), comes across as naïve and full of wonder. She’s alone in a big city and seems to be a bit too trusting, a bit too eager. The first real glimpse we get into her character is the first conversation she has with Andi, whom she bumps into on the street. She is flirtatious but shy, and you see that there’s more to her then what meets the eye. What seems like a natural connection unfolds to an encounter and the two spend the night together.
Things seem normal. But then, there is more to Andi then what meets the eye as well. In the morning after he leaves for work, Clare gets up to go and finds she can’t get out. She thinks it’s just a mistake, and spends the day waiting to clear up the misunderstanding. The next morning Andi takes steps to make Clare think he’s corrected the problem so that there are no red flags, but she soon realizes she’s trapped in a mine field.
From the time she realizes she’s locked in, the film is incredibly suspenseful. It’s not only how the two of them will interact, but wondering how Clare will fill her time, what she will do to try and escape, how the two will interact with others from the outside world, etc. Each person’s move, each utterance has a purpose. Their relationship is turbulent, oscillating from one extreme to the next, and sometimes it sits still just settled, as though they live together as a normal couple.
The script brings a lot to the table. Andi has a number of lines that are delivered perfectly. While the film is by no means a comedy, his neurotic personality comes to life in such a way that at times, he’s laughable. At one point, well into her captivity, Clare acts out after being presented with lingerie to wear for him, and he looks at her and says, “Can’t you just be normal?” Perfection.
‘Berlin Syndrome‘ is violent, it’s sexual, it’s intense, and it’s uncomfortable. It’s hard to watch at times, but it’s well worth watching,