Monday, July 31, 2017

'Berlin Syndrome' Is a Well-Constructed and Tense Abduction Thriller

Berlin Syndrome is an Australian psychological thriller drama film about an Australian photographer named Clare (Teresa Palmer) who hooks up with a local school teacher named Andi (Max Riemelt) while vacationing in Berlin.   After a night of passion, Clare wakes up to discover that Andi has already left for work and she’s locked inside his apartment.  Upon his return, he tells her that he has simply forgotten to leave her the key, and she stays for another night.  But when it happens again the next day, she finally realizes, to her horror, that he actually has no intention of ever letting her leave.

Somehow, as an abduction psychological thriller, I found Berlin Syndrome fresh.  Yet it’s neither the mindblower that Split is nor does it have the disturbing absurdity of Tusk.  And I don’t think it did something radically different from other “pure” abduction psychological thrillers I’ve seen.  Maybe because there’s a few of them out there (or I’ve only watched a few) that its tropes aren’t tiring yet.  I don’t know.  Anyway, at the very least, I found it more rewarding than Hounds of Love (another Aussie abduction psychological thriller I’ve seen earlier this year, which is ironically more well-liked by critics than Berlin Syndrome).
Maybe in its nuances, there’s something that makes it notable.  The film is constructed quite well.  The cinematography and sound design are well taut, working together to build an effectual ambiance.  And while the narrative is a tad predictable, it does have legitimate tension and cleverness.  Plus, the strong performances, especially from Palmer, only make it more engrossing.

In the end, Berlin Syndrome doesn’t make a lasting emphatic impression.  But it’s entirely immersive and noticeably well-crafted nonetheless.

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