Clare (Teresa Palmer) isn’t your average Aussie backpacker. She’s a little shy, drinks slowly and takes photos. She lands in Berlin and meets a local, Andi, (Max Reimelt) and Clare realises she’s up for a shag. (C’mon, it’s more fun than souvenir shopping). The problem is Andi is a little possessive. He locks Clare in his apartment in a deserted part of Berlin, and has no intention of letting her leave. Ever.
This is a trim thriller, based on a novel. The erotic build up is very well done. It tries to be a psychological interplay between a kidnaper and victim, but anything resembling Stockholm Syndrome lasts for about a scene. Most of the time Clare is resigned to her fate, and finding out what it might be. If she could assume the obvious, she might have tried being more resourceful.
Max Teimelt is unnervingly good as the psychopathic Andi. He shows enough calm with minor flashes of temper to be realistic. The script tries to explain his behaviour without empathising. As kidnappers go, Andi isn’t that bad. He cooks for Clare, brings her wine, leaves steaks for her to cook while he’s gone, pots to boil water for a cuppa and a warm fire for her to stoke. Now there are about half a dozen clues for weapons I picked up that Clare doesn’t. She needs a smarter way out or this won’t be a very clever thriller.
It is however a gut tightening one, mainly due to the performances, especially Teresa Palmer’s, and direction by Cate Shortland (Sum of Us, Somersault). The script is by her colleague Shaun Grant (Jasper Jones) who has adapted Melanie Joosten’s debut novel. It’s good to see an Australian film that treads new ground and a script that is universal. I just wish he could have cleaned up the plotholes.
In the end, thrillers are measured by how much you squirm and how close to the end of your seat you balance on. The two-hour length also sets a high benchmark, and should have been tighter. How much you enjoy this will depend on how forgiving you are of the holes Clare have escaped through.
Con’s Score 3 deadlocks
Con Nats – Theatre Now & On The Town