Squirm-inducing: Review of Berlin Syndrome by Rashid Irani | movie reviews | Hindustan Times
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Squirm-inducing: Review of Berlin Syndrome by Rashid Irani

A tourist in Germany has a one-night stand that turns into a nightmare. It’s a compelling tale, but don’t expect much from the conclusion.

movie reviews Updated: Jul 27, 2017 14:35 IST
Rashid Irani
The lead actors are good. Direction is fair. But the shifting alliance between the hapless victim and her psychotic abductor isn’t exploited as well as it could have been.
The lead actors are good. Direction is fair. But the shifting alliance between the hapless victim and her psychotic abductor isn’t exploited as well as it could have been.
BERLIN SYNDROME
  • Direction: Cate Shortland
  • Actors: Teresa Palmer, Max Riemelt
  • Rating: 2.5 / 5

One of the rare Australian films to be accorded a commercial release here, Berlin Syndrome is a ‘woman in jeopardy’ thriller.

A young photographer (Teresa Palmer) newly arrived from Brisbane strikes up a friendship with an English teacher (Max Riemelt) in the former East Berlin. But their one-night tryst turns into a nightmare when she discovers the next morning that her ‘lover’ has imprisoned her in his soundproof apartment.

After numerous unsuccessful attempts at escape, the captive gradually begins to redevelop feelings towards her tormentor.

The action is largely confined to the single claustrophobic location, but the shifting alliance between the hapless victim and her psychotic abductor isn’t exploited as well as it could have been, as the script grinds down to its embarrassingly pat conclusion.

Director Cate Shortland shows restraint while handling the scenes of sex and violence, but some of her artsy flourishes, including repeated spurts of slow-motion, are very jarring.

Palmer brings conviction to her role; as the deceptively mild-mannered antagonist, German actor Riemelt fits the bill adequately.

Berlin Syndrome is worth a watch but only for want of a more rewarding alternative at the multiplexes this week.