Film Reviews

Berlin Syndrome (2017)

berlin syndrome poster

Starring: Teresa Palmer, Max Riemelt,

Director: Cate Shortland

A naive Australian photojournalist is in Berlin to take photographs when she meets a cute German guy. They head back to his place for a one night stand, but when she wakes up the next morning, she finds herself locked in. Thinking at first that it’s an accident, she soon finds when he returns home that her sim card is gone and there’s no way out.

Cate Shortland is an Australian director whose film Somersault was well received. Her films explore some dark and dramatic themes with taste and restraint. This film is no exception, and with it’s dark theme and R rating, I was unsure whether I’d be able to handle this story. But it’s masterfully told and though it goes to some dark places, it’s never sensationalised or gratuitous. This is Clare’s story, and it’s not sexy in any way.

One thing I really liked about this film is how real it felt. The way that Clare is not immediately alarmed, the way she approaches her keeper in different ways and tries to use reason and force at different times, as well as the way she sometimes feels brave enough to taunt him or sometimes feels empathy. It all makes sense in the context of her captivity. She never really gives up fighting to be free, but she feels so real the whole time.

Teresa Palmer is the heart of this film in that sense, because she seems like a likable girl doing an ordinary thing that has backfired on her. You can relate to her, and she feels both vulnerable and kind as well as tough and enduring. The plot thickens nicely around her as things are slowly pieced together and the story of her captor unfolds as well, which is nicely done. You don’t feel much sympathy for him, appropriately, but he’s no one dimensional bad guy either. The psychology of this film is chilling in the way that it is so true, so close to the bone.

Not an easy watch then. But one that comes from an impressive lead and a masterful film maker, and so I recommend it, if you like a good thriller and can handle the subject matter.

See It If: you ever had a one night stand while on holiday, it will make you think twice! Intelligent and chilling.

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7 thoughts on “Berlin Syndrome (2017)”

  1. I saw the trailer for this, and I’m torn. I love Teresa Palmer, but don’t want to see her in peril!

    I may wait for friends to watch it for me and just tell me everything. These abduction sort of films make me a little squeamish sometimes, even though I want to see how they end! I’m always interested in the escape and the revenge they get on the villain!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hmm, this really sounds like a very dark, but very good film. I usually enjoy these kind of movies a lot. Especially if they are done well, and the way you are describing it, it certainly sounds like a great movie. Love all these recommendations. My to watch list has grown way out of proportion because of your blog and reviews, but it’s great, I don’t mind that at all 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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