Sunday, 30 April 2017

Berlin Syndrome (3 Stars)

This is an Australian film set in Berlin. Since the main character in the film is Clare, an Australian backpacker who speaks no German, almost all of the dialogue is in English. There are only brief scenes with German dialogue.

Clare is travelling across Europe, trying to see as much as possible in a short time. She's been in Berlin for two days and plans to travel to Dresden, but she meets a high school English teacher called Andi and decides to stay the night with him. He takes her back to his apartment in a Hinterhof in former East Berlin. (See my review of "The woman behind the wall" for an explanation of what a Hinterhof is). It's a large building with many apartments, but he's the only resident.

After a night of passionate sex Clare falls asleep in Andi's arms. When she wakes up the next day he's already gone to school. She wants to leave, but the door is locked and the windows have been sealed. He comes home from work, but he refuses to let her leave. He wants her to remain with him forever. All her attempts to leave are met with violence. The imprisonment lasts for several months. At times she feels sympathy for Andi and tries to please him, at other times her only thoughts are about how to escape.

My main reason for wanting to see this film is because I loved "Lore", the previous film by the director Cate Shortland. I was disappointed. "Berlin Syndrome" contains several scenes of violence against women, not just against Clare. I don't like violence against women. It's difficult for me to watch. I sat through the film hoping for a big revenge scene in which Andi had to suffer, but it didn't come. I left the cinema feeling empty inside.

The film has been strongly praised by critics, so it may be a film that my readers enjoy, but it's not something I would want to watch again.

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