Review in Brief: Berlin Syndrome (2017)

BERLIN SYNDROME takes simple exploitation film premise, “nice boy you met on holiday turns out to be a kidnapping psychopath” and goes far deeper into the psychological makeup of these characters who could very easily just be archetypes. It portrays an exaggerated, but completely and chillingly believable abusive relationship, with levels of abuse both simple and far less easy to define. It’s a film of fascinating character contradictions. Andi (Max Riemelt) morally judges people but physically and emotionally imprisons women, Clare’s (Teresa Palmer) bids for freedom become much less determined as long as her captor keeps her in relative comfort. Her only question for him is “How did you choose me?” which says a lot about her perspective on life. Director Cate Shortland (a really good choice for the long-anticipated BLACK WIDOW movie) contrasts upsetting material and emotional turmoil with steady, meticulous and beautiful shot construction, moments of stillness allowing you to take a breather from Clare’s waking nightmare and hope things get better. SSP

About Sam Sewell-Peterson

Writer and film fanatic fond of black comedies, sci-fi, animation and films about dysfunctional families.
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