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Berlin Syndrome

Clare, a young Australian, meets English teacher Andi in Berlin. She finds him charming and goes home with him. When she wakes up the next day she realizes she can’t leave the apartment. More of a psycho drama than a hostage thriller.


A young Australian in Berlin. She seems a bit lost, but it also seems like this feeling is what drew her to Berlin, like it does for many others. Clare (Teresa Palmer) has a beer with other ex-pats on her hostel’s terrace, but she doesn’t belong to any group. She walks the streets alone. She meets Andi (Max Riemelt), an English and PE teacher, who seems charming and funny and takes her to his garden plot first and then home. When Clare wakes up the next morning, the door is locked from the outside. She can’t open the windows either. Clare still believes this is unintentional, she hopes so at least, but it quickly becomes clear that Andi has a dark side and that Clare has to rely on herself from this point on. A long imprisonment begins, structured by daily routines and broken up by failed escape attempts. Summer freedom turns into isolated winter. More of a psychothriller than a HOSTEL descendant, BERLIN SYNDROME is mostly interested in the process that Clare goes through. Protestation, forgiveness, resignation, at times she even seems to be sympathetic towards the psychopath. Or is it just a tactic?

BERLIN SYNDROME is set in the present but was adapted from the novel “Berlin Syndrome” by Australian Melanie Joosten which was published in 2011 and based on her experiences in the beginning of the century. The result is a film that mixes the paranoia of millennial backpackers with streetscapes and urban impressions that seem to stem from the late 90s and early 00s. The coalman, the wintery courtyard, the rancid facades, and the adventure playground romance seem haunted by the Cold War and the GDR regime.

Hendrike Bake

Translation: Elinor Lewy


Original title: Berlin Syndrom
Deutschland, Australien 2016, 116 min
Genre: Thriller
Director: Cate Shortland
Author: Shaun Grant, Melanie Joosten
DOP: Germain McMicking
Music: Bryony Marks
Distributor: MFA+
Cast: Max Riemelt, Matthias Habich, Teresa Palmer, Emma Bading, Lucie Aron
FSK: 16
Release: 25.05.2017




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles

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