Netflix Recommendation: “Berlin Syndrome”



Title: Berlin Syndrome
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Posted September 8, 2017 by

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Clare (Teresa Palmer) is a photojournalist who has traveled to Berlin as a sort of getaway while also taking pictures of the beautiful architecture around the city. Not one to shy away from new experiences, she finds herself quickly making friends and being almost too trustworthy with strangers she comes in contact with. One of those strangers is Andi (Max Riemelt): an English teacher who’s a little too touchy but ends up getting Clare to come back to his place (a rundown apartment in an almost abandoned building) and the two have a passionate night together. When Clare tries to leave the morning after and finds the windows reinforced and the front door locked from the outside, it turns from romance to a nightmare quickly.

With movies like this, the question is usually never if they’re going to escape, but how. What makes “Berlin Syndrome” different is having to ask the question if Clare wants to escape. At first, while panic is settling in, she makes a couple attempts to flee, but after a while her spirit is broken and she begins to resign herself to the fact that, in order to just survive, she must attempt to make this abnormal relationship work.  After a few days, Andi trusts her enough to not tie her to the bed when he leaves for work in the morning. Then he gifts her lingerie and even a dog for Christmas. He takes her outside for the first time once it starts snowing and allows her to walk freely, if only for a moment. Small moments he allows her to have so she doesn’t lose all normalcy, despite her situation being the furthest thing from normal.

Even as the viewer I found myself thinking, “They could make this work. This could be a seriously messed up relationship but one that can find its footing.” Once you watch the movie, you may feel the same. You may also snap out of it like I did when you remember the situation at hand. It’s a clever trick on director Cate Shortland and writer Shaun Grant’s part. They fool you, just like they’re fooling Clare , into thinking some good could come out of this situation despite the horrors surrounding the small moments of human decency.

While it’s a well made movie with a strong script that strays as far away as possible from the trappings of cliches, it’s really the acting that sells it. Both Palmer and Riemelt lend a realistic portrayal to their characters that makes them more than just antagonist and protagonist. You start to believe that Andi’s methods of having a relationship are completely wrong, but maybe just a weird way in which he interprets loving someone. At the same time, you don’t blame Clare for resigning herself to the situation she’s in. You root for her to find something she can hold onto in a situation where all hope seems to be pointless. Don’t get me wrong: Andi’s a creep and I wanted Clare to just break out and make a run for it, but Riemelt lends just that small does of likability to his character that the lines definitely get blurred at times.

A tense thriller that doesn’t break the mold, but definitely bends it to its will, “Berlin Syndrome” is a beautifully shot film with strong acting that is currently streaming on Netflix and I recommend you check out.




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