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Berlin Syndrome

Cate Shortland

Through her two previous films, Somersault and Lore, Australian filmmaker Cate Shortland has proven she has a real talent for atmospheric, brooding stories with strong but damaged female characters at their heart. Berlin Syndrome takes that to a whole new level, as the main protagonist becomes trapped, literally, in a dysfunctional relationship from hell.

"This is definitely not a film for the squeamish..."

Based on a novel by Melanie Joosten, the film opens as Clare (Teresa Palmer), a young Australian photographer travelling through Europe, meets the charming Andi (Max Riemelt) on the streets of Berlin. They have an immediate and powerful connection. But what starts out like a night she’ll remember fondly soon turns out to be one she’ll never forget, for all the wrong reasons. When she wakes up the next day, Clare is locked in Andi’s apartment and has become his prisoner.

In Shortland’s hands this classic horror film premise becomes something more complex. The chemistry between the two leads is best described as unsettling, as Clare’s desire to escape is almost as strong as her attraction to the man holding her captive. With some strong scenes that had audiences walking out at the screening we attended at the Berlin Film Festival, this is definitely not a film for the squeamish. Tense and at times thrilling, Berlin Syndrome is a film which will divide audiences and have you discussing the plot points, issues raised, and that unforgettable scene, long after you’ve left the cinema.