Berlin Syndrome (2017) Friday, 10 April 2020

Berlin Syndrome (2017)

Additional Info

  • Rating:

    MA15+: Strong themes, violence and sex scenes.

  • The pitch:

    Aussie Stockholm in Berlin.

  • Starring:

    Teresa Palmer, Max Riemelt, Matthias Habich, Emma Bading, Elmira Bahrami, Christoph Franken, Lucie Aron

  • Directed by:

    Cate Shortland

  • Running time:

    116 minutes

  • Rated:

    MA15+ (Australia), 15 (UK), R (USA)


    People are kidnapped, forced into boot/trunk of car, pushed, hit, slapped, held on floor, dragged by hair, stabbed in hand with screwdriver, trapped in flat, near-hit by car, threatened with death by axe, beaten to death with crowbar, thrown onto bed and tied by hands and feet, burned (hand on stove). Controlling behaviour (writing 'mine' on shoulder/photographing woman without her permission/posing woman for photographs/washing woman in shower/threatened with killing or kidnapping other people - including children - if woman raises alarm/grooming hair and nails/blaming/shaming). Choking demonstration (man's hand around woman's throat). Objects thrown at window to smash glass, chair slapped out of hands, breaking door open. Smashing bottles heard off-screen. Person left without electricity, food and water to freeze/starve. Blood/gore: Parent found dead on couch; body groomed. Body disposal (burning in industrial bin). Blood on hands/clothes/face; blood spatter, mopping up blood, blood dripping on floor from bag of meat. Broken bloody fingers seen then re-broken to reset. Hole in hand; wound bandaged/bandaged hand. Cuts, bruising, ligature marks on ankles, blistering from burn. Child crying from broken leg. Reference to having 12 stitches, mention of infection, implied urination/defecation. Animal skulls on wall.


    Sex scenes (explicit), implied sex scenes, oral sex. Kissing, flirting, handholding, caressing faces and bodies, playing with hair. Woman thrusting/gyrating. A teacher watches student with sexual interest then blames them for provocation ("you made a spectacle of yourself"). A woman is accused of throwing herself at men. Artwork of entwined couples. Nudity: Nude female (rear/side views), exposed breasts, shirtless man, nude buttocks (male and female). Woman pulling on underwear under towel. Couple undressing one another, woman in bra/lingerie. A man forces a woman to pose in lingerie. Students in tight gym clothes.


    Alcohol (spirits, beer, wine). Smoking (cigarettes).


    F-words, s-words. Religious references. Misogynist behaviour (man washing area where woman touched him, anger at woman for using his coffee mug).


    Kidnapping, sexual abuse, one-night stands, Stockholm Syndrome, foreign travel, backpacking, victimisation, recklessness, regret, photography, art.


    Dead father. Urination/defecation implied (wetness on plastic sheet kept under restrained victim). Power blackout. Creepy abandoned houses. Dog barking at gate (jump scare). Reference to separated parents. Subtitles. Based on the novel Berlin Syndrome by Melanie Joosten.


    Psychological, complex, satifsying, taut, effective, patient, rewarding, kinky, elegant, intense, arresting, harrowing, creepy, small, queasy, dark. Daring/low-key/bold/underplayed/courageous/passive/cool/constrained/honest/brave/mesmerising/miraculous performance by Teresa Palmer, menacing/clenched performance by Max Riemelt, first-rate/dazzling cinematography, inventive/selective/unsettling score, careful production design, aloof tone, nerve-shredding tension, well-earned scares, brutal/bloody violence, steamy sex scenes, slinky/insidious rhythm, pristine tech credits.


    Over-inflated running time, unlikely/hasty ending, feels manipulative at times, ineffective attempt at providing backstory for Andi.

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