Berlin Syndrome: An Unhindered, Intense and Terrifying Thriller
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Berlin Syndrome is an unhindered thriller that isn’t afraid to go into frightening details. Based on Melanie Joosten’s novel of the same name, this film is directed with utmost finesse by director Cate Shortland. Though a section of audiences might find the film to be too eerie, the effect it leaves you with is most-definitely intended.
Clare (Teresa Palmer), an Australian photographer lands in Berlin with brimming hopes of capturing the city’s thriving architecture. Soon after she arrives in this strange land, she meets Andi (Max Riemelt), a charming and scholarly high school teacher. As the two of them playfully exchange flirtation, Andi’s intensity strikes the onlookers as sinister but Clare has no idea of it.
A few days later Clare decides to spend the night at Andi’s place. On waking up she realizes that she is being held captive within the confines of his apartment. All hell breaks loose when she further discovers that her captivity is just a small part of his petrifying plan.
The initial ten minute establishment in Berlin Syndrome is achieved impeccably. The liberation Clare feels is portrayed by her roaming about care-free in a new country. Her creative perspective and independence too is highlighted. Due to this strong establishment, the caging of her wild soul is all the more hard hitting.
When Clare is held captive, director Shortland, puts her in an emotional state that goes through five painstaking stages namely denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Her transformation through each stage is encapsulated in an impressive manner.
Two aspects covered in the film are especially exceptional. The first one is the unhindered manner in which Shorthand records the relationship between the captor and captive. Their emotional distress and the simultaneous change of moods they encounter are covered in searing depths. As time passes, you get an insight into Andi’s mind. The manner in which he starts to care for Clare showcases his mental disabilities and how might have procured them in the first place.
The second strong aspect in the film is achieving the claustrophobia this story significantly demands. Director Shortland achieves this by giving you a taste of a life outside confinement every now and then to agonize Clare’s state all the more.
A few minor problems can be observed in Berlin Syndrome. A swifter pace could’ve served the director better in sustaining the interest of the audience. The rawness of the film and the excruciating intensity it packs is definitely not for everybody.
As Clare, Teresa Palmer shows promise. This is one of the most challenging and evidently central roles, the actress has played. After a while, many scenes are focused solely on Clare. In these scenes, Teresa conveys Clare’s personality through her emotions and actions alone. The manner in which she holds her own in these silent monologues are very impressive. Hopefully, this wonderful portrayal will open many more doors for her.
Bryony Marks deserves a special mention for the eeriness she brings to the frame with the use of electrifying notes. She remarkably intensifies the terror using her arresting music.
On the whole, Berlin Syndrome will make you fear travelling alone. The troubling after effect it leaves you with will take a while to shake off. If you find this experience enthralling, most definitely go for it.