Published on June 8th, 2017 | by voxx0
Out: 9th June
Length: 115 minutes
Director: Cate Shortland
Cast: Teresa Palmer, Max Riemelt, Lucie Aron, Mathias Habich
Plot: Clare (Palmer), an Australian photojournalist is on holiday in Berlin, until she meets Andi (Riemelt) the two form a passionate relationship until she wakes and is unable to leave his apartment.
Writer-Director Sebastian Schipper’s ‘Victoria’ had a lot of perks going in, shining in the darker nooks and crannies of Berlin lifestyle, a stunning character study, impressive visuals but the best perhaps more ambitious perk of all is that it was filmed in one take all 2 hours and 18 minutes of it. With all these perks on show, at least one of them would be influenced into future films; turns out it was, enter acclaimed Australian filmmaker Cate Shortland who after her 2004 debut ‘Somersault’ has shown at first hand that she is no stranger to threatening beauty. With that by her side and the one take influence from Schipper makes her latest ‘Berlin Syndrome’ the film to watch in 2017.
Opening with Clare (Palmer) an aspiring Australian photojournalist who’s on holiday in Berlin to explore the architecture, until she meets Andi (Riemelt) an English teacher who takes her to explore all the quiet abandoned sites of Germany’s capital. She loves this; passionate times are afoot when sexual tension ensues between these two characters. She wakes and soon discovers that she is unable to leave his apartment, at first she relishes this when he returns as she thinks that he forgot to leave a key. But after she discovers that he has a penchant for the capturing and torturing of young women she wants to escape before she gets hurt.
Shortland collaborates Stockholm syndrome with the inner beauty of Berlin’s lifestyle, her camera moves slowly through the lively streets of the city to the abandoned buildings that barricade the tight turns and it’s wonderful, both threatening and beautiful at the same time. Though it’s not as flawlessly impressive as Schipper’s one take drama, it’s just as deeply engrossing particularly the way she captivates the deep emotions between the two leads. Clare wants to leave but Andi wants her to stay he does everything to force her to stay with him, meanwhile he visits his dying father (Habich) and she spends most of the time alone.
The film’s true potential shines the brightest when this happens, she has to fend for herself, keep herself warm and feed herself in this tight space – meanwhile helping herself to evidence of his life. Quickly escalating through nerve-shredding tension which in turn is made all the more perfect thanks to Bryony Marks’ foreboding score, it keeps the thrills coming non-stop. ‘Berlin Syndrome’ is not perfect, in the last 20 minutes she’s planning her escape. Here the cliches bare all leaving this psychodrama premise perhaps overdone but still as gripping as its opening. Plus Palmer’s electric performance makes this one helluva thriller that’s captivating and moving.
VERDICT: Palmer gives a career-best performance in this deeply engrossing one take captivity thriller that’s both complex and emotional mixed with straight up nerve-shredding tension.
By Corey Denford