Teresa Palmer’s work in the opening minutes of “Berlin Syndrome” succeeds in conveying the nearly tactile sensations of being an enthusiastic stranger in a strange land. Playing Clare, an Australian photographer looking for inspiration and adventure in Berlin, she seems to aspire to walk on air as she emerges from a subway station; a little later, leaning over the railing of the roof of the youth hostel where she’s staying, she looks similarly ready to take off.
But soon this aspirant bird will be caged. A meet-cute with an intellectual schoolteacher named Andi (Max Riemelt) leads to flirtation, an intense sexual assignation and an unsettling discovery the morning after. She can’t leave his apartment. It soon becomes horrifically apparent that the not-leaving component is part of a larger scheme that Andi has enacted before.
I can’t speak from personal experience, but it seems the stages of captivity aren’t too different from the stages of grief. Once disbelief subsides, Clare starts to rage, but Andi’s living quarters are diabolically designed to contain her and her anger.
The movie is based on a 2011 novel of the same name by Melanie Joosten, but viewers of a certain age will detect an affinity with “The Collector,” the 1965 picture by…