BERLIN SYNDROME STORY : Clare (Teresa Palmer) is an explorer in search of a new beginning. Andi (Max Riemelt), a mysterious and charming young man catches her fancy on a busy Berlin street. She’s a photographer from Australia. He’s a German native, who teaches English. After an instant attraction, their intriguing story takes an unlikely turn when the girl discovers there’s more to him than meets the eye.
BERLIN SYNDROME REVIEW : Berlin Syndrome works on your mind. Cate Shortland’s slow-moving arthouse thriller manages to suffocate you with its creepy and unpredictable nature and atmospheric execution. Shot within the confines of a secluded house, the intense cinematography makes you feel claustrophobic, evoking a sense of paranoia. The psychological thriller manages to instil fear and will make you think twice before trusting strangers or walking into strange homes. You might also rethink your exotic fantasies of ‘falling for a stranger in a foreign country’.
The concept isn’t original per se as various foreign indie films have played around a similar theme – a film revolving around a trapped protagonist. However, Shortland’s nuanced interpretation of her characters and their psyche is what makes the difference. She makes you wonder how everything can be subjective; including one’s perception of ‘abnormal’.
Interestingly, there are no character clichés per se. You often wonder if Clare would be ‘institutionalised’ eventually, after being trapped in Andi’s house for the longest time. The twists and turns keep you guessing and wondering if the lead pair’s strange relationship might actually have a deeper meaning. Speaking of the pair, the film solely rests on the shoulders of its two lead actors – Teresa Palmer (who looks and acts exactly like Kristen Stewart) and Max Riemelt. They portray their characters’ vulnerabilities, fear and erraticism with utmost conviction.
Overall, this one’s creepy and unsettling but will largely appeal to a niche audience, owing to its languid pace and world cinema sensibilities.