Check out the trailer for Teresa’s upcoming movie Berlin Syndrome, we added x99 screencaps to the gallery, plus x03 new stills.
Australian tourist Clare (Teresa Palmer) travels to Berlin to photograph East German architecture and meets Andi (Max Riemelt), a handsome but brooding schoolteacher. After a brief fling, Clare tries to leave, but Andi isn’t ready to let go. She soon finds herself held prisoner in his locked apartment, cut off from the outside world. As her ordeal unfolds, Clare cycles between reasoning with her captor, surrendering to his obsessions, and plotting her escape.”
Cate Shortland’s kinky confinement thriller reveals her affinity for genre-tinged material, at no cost to her distinctive formal style.
Australian director Cate Shortland’s films feature a kind of threatening beauty. Their surfaces are too immaculate, too exquisite, not to be masking messier, queasier ideas and impulses beneath: the reckless, harshly punished sexuality of a teenage girl in “Somersault,” or a youth’s dawning realization of her Nazi brainwashing in “Lore.” In “Berlin Syndrome,” Shortland’s equally, intensely elegant third feature, the ugly subversion of seductive exteriors is built into the film’s very narrative, as a heady, sexy holiday hook-up turns overnight into an abusive abduction — cuing a nightmarish game of sexual control and captivity, in which toxic masculinity calls the shots. Adapted from Melanie Joosten’s 2011 novel, this arresting, slightly over-extended conversation piece marks Shortland’s first foray into genre storytelling — though the film’s aloof tone and angular gender politics keep it in the art-house domain.
That said, with sales already having proven brisk — a U.S. distribution deal was secured with Vertical Entertainment prior to its Sundance debut, with Netflix gaining streaming rights — “Berlin Syndrome” promises to be its director’s most widely seen effort to date, hinting at her potential facility with more commercial crossover projects. Between more trickily opaque stretches of character development, Shortland nails a handful of straight-up, nerve-shredding tension sequences, teasing a version of the film that might have tilted into full-bore horror.
As it is, the backpacker-abroad scenario that unfolds here is as coldly frightening as any grislier “Saw”-style version of events. Wandering aimlessly and alone through Berlin, young photographer Clare (Teresa Palmer, rather boldly underplaying) seems content to let adventure come to her, so when handsome, chatty local teacher Andi (Max Riemelt) takes an interest, a brief, hot dalliance with him strikes her as just the right degree of recklessness. After some romantic comedy-style courting — ambling through public gardens, correcting his adorable English errors, mooning over Gustav Klimt paintings — their relationship takes a sensual step up. As in her previous films, Shortland conveys the sense of touch with quivering exactitude, as Germain McMicking’s camera lingers deliciously over entwined expanses of skin.
The film’s steamiest, most ravishingly lit love scene comes, however, with a brutal hangover: The next morning, Clare awakes alone in Andi’s apartment to find all doors and windows impenetrably bolted, and her cellphone stripped of its SIM card. When her captor returns, meanwhile, she finds his demeanor drastically changed, his affable gallantry giving way to violent, chilly mastery — though he appears psychologically torn between blandly playing house (“Do you like pesto?”) and more perversely exploiting her imprisonment. The glowingly shot physical intimacy stops here — Shortland and screenwriter Shaun Grant show thankfully little interest in sexing up this grim chamber drama from this point — but “Berlin Syndrome” still demonstrates an acute awareness of body language and purely physical power-play, whether through touching the flesh or breaking it.
UK Distributor Artificial Eye has acquired Cate Shortland’s Berlin Syndrome, starring Teresa Palmer as a backpacking photojournalist whose holiday romance takes a sinister turn when she is imprisoned by her new lover.
The Paris-based Memento Films International, which is unveiling a teaser at the AFM, has also sold the film to Turkey (Bir Film), ex-Yugoslavia (Megacom), South Korean (Yejilim), Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia (Queen), and the Middle East (Falcon).
The company has also released a first image of Palmer on the U-Bahn, or underground, in Berlin where the production has just finished shooting exteriors before heading to the studio in Melbourne for the interiors.
Much-in-demand Palmer also has upcoming roles in Mel Gibson’s World War Two drama Hacksaw Ridge, the James Wan-produced horror thriller Lights Out and Nicholas Sparks’ adaptation The Choice.
Berlin Syndrome is Australian Cate Shortland’s third feature after the award-winning 2012 World War Two drama Lore and Somersault, which starred Abbie Cornish as young girl figuring out the difference between sex and love. The latter premiered in Cannes Un Certain Regard in 2004.
Her latest is an adaptation of Melanie Joosten’s book Berlin Syndrome by Shaun Grant, who co-wrote Justin Kurzel’s Snowtown. Polly Staniford at Aquarius Films is producing with backing from Screen Australia, Fulcrum Media Finance, Film Victoria & DDP Studios. Entertainment One will distribute Australia.