Berlin Syndrome is an Australian psychological thriller which follows the story of Clare, (Teresa Palmer) a typical young woman who decides to leave Australia and experience the world in an attempt to make memories and find herself. In Berlin she meets the alluring school teacher Andi (Max Riemelt). They go for long walks through the city, discuss architecture, history and books. However, their dreamy, idealistic holiday romance soon turns into a nightmare when Clare wakes up in Andi’s apartment after a one-night-stand to find that she is alone and locked in with no way out. It’s summer release may take a toll on anyone thinking about bag packing through Europe.
Berlin Syndrome marks Australian director Cate Shortland as one to watch for the future as she transforms the generic hostage/kidnapper story from something tacky into something complex, expertly and provocatively portraying ideas of eroticism, obsession and femininity in her own distinctive way.
Teresa Palmer’s performance must be praised for how she continuously conveys both a sense of repulsion and captivation toward her capturer, keeping viewers in that ambiguous space where they cannot be certain how she feels. Max Riemelt is successful in creating a sense of unease around his character even when at his most charming.
This is a film that you find yourself becoming emotionally involved in as it maintains a sense of tension, not only throughout but also after, as the ominous events of the story leave a lingering sense of fear. This is achieved not only through the plot itself, but through the perfectly timed use of close ups, the dark tones and powerful yet understated performances of the cast. It is the perfect film for those seeking a heady thriller combined with confrontation of complex issues of lust and the human willpower.
Berlin Syndrome is in cinemas from June 10th