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Film / Berlin Syndrome

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Berlin Syndrome is a 2017 film which starts as the Australian tourist Clare visits Berlin, Germany. There she meets Andi, a charming, attractive German man, and they hit it off. While at first everything seems fine, after Clare has sex with him, she finds Andi's left the next day with the door locked from inside. He apologizes and claims it was a mistake after coming back from work, saying he'll her a key there so Clare won't be trapped inside again. The next day though, the key Andi promised he'd leave is nowhere to be found. Clare realized in horror that Andi intends to lock her inside his apartment indefinitely. Her attempts to escape are futile-the window glass is reinforced, the door still locked. With increasing desperation, Clare struggles for a way to break free... The film stars Teresa Palmer and Max Riemelt. It's based on a novel by Melanie Joosten with the same name, published in 2012.

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  • Accidental Hero: A little boy looking for someone to help his hurt brother interrupts Andi right when he was almost certainly about to kill Clare.
  • Adult Fear: Meeting a charming, handsome, seemingly nice guy, having great sex with him... and then finding out that he's locked you inside his house. With the intention of keeping you inside forever.
  • Affably Evil: Andi is usually friendly and polite to Clare even when she's his captive. Only a couple of times does he really lose his cool, such as during her escape attempts or other resistance. Justified as he sees her as his girlfriend, willing or not.
  • Ambiguous Situation: The ending makes it unclear if Andi is being left to die in the apartment, or if the picture in his classroom will cause the police to come investigating and find him.
  • Berserk Button: Being called "abnormal" by Clare (which is a very mild way of putting it) causes one of the few times where Andi loses his cool and hits her.
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  • Cell Phones Are Useless: Clare tries to call for help using hers immediately after learning Andi's locked her inside his apartment. He already took her SIM card though to prevent this.
  • Chained to a Bed: Andi ties Clare to a bed at first in the face of her resistance. He keeps her lying out on plastic in her own waste there when he's at work. Eventually, she gets him to set her free from this and stay loose inside the apartment.
  • Disposing of a Body: Andi makes Clare help him do this after he kills a man who she tried to get help from.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Andi cares for his aging father and frequently visits him. His father is entirely oblivious to Andi's evil side from all that we can tell.
  • False Reassurance: Andi spins awhile telling Clare that she can leave eventually and her family knows where she is. He's lying.
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  • Fingore: Clare briefly gets out of the apartment with the keys after stabbing Andi's hand, pinning it onto the table using a screwdriver and running for help. Andi slams her hand in the door she's trying to open outside then drags her back.
  • Forced to Watch: Clare gets the attention of a man who comes to the door and asks him for help. He doesn't know English though, and Andi comes back the same time. She's forced to watch in horror while Andi kills him.
  • Freudian Excuse: Andi turns out to have serious Mommy issues. His mother defected from East Berlin to West Germany, leaving her son behind.
  • Girlfriend in Canada: Or rather ex-girlfriend back in Canada. Nathalie did actually exist, but it's pretty apparent that she didn't really go home to Canada.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Andi kills his father's dog due to Clare showing it attention.
  • Has a Type: Andi is apparently attracted to foreign brunette women. Clare fits, along with the Canadian Nathalie from her photos, and we see him chat up a Frenchwoman like this too. He uses the same line with her as Clare, pretending to get an English word wrong so she can correct him.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Clare lures Andi back into the apartment near the end, having been released by his student Franka, and then locks him inside after he'd shut down the utilities in preparation to move.
  • Internal Reveal: Franka is alerted to what's going on once Clare slips a photo of herself bound and naked into Franka's notebook when Andi's grading it.
  • Perma-Stubble: Andi is always unshaven but arguably doesn't have enough facial hair to qualify for a beard.
  • Questionable Consent: Clare once has sex with Andi after he starts holding her captive, but of course this context makes it dubious how consensual it was, although she seemed willing otherwise.
  • Slave Brand: Andi does something similar to Clare, writing "Mine" on her shoulder blade in ink, which she views using the mirror after seeing a photo of another woman he did the same thing with. It's what tells her he won't be letting her go.
  • Slut-Shaming:
    • When his student Franka hits on him after noticing he'd been watching her during gym class, Andi rejects her and cruelly says it was only because she'd been "flaunting" herself. She'd really done no such thing, just exercising in her gym clothing like everyone else.
    • Later, when his coworker Jana is friendly to him at a party, he asks her if her husband approves of her throwing herself at men that way, leaving her confused and upset, and asking him to leave.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: Clare seems to be suffering from a bit of this at times, as she becomes friendly with Andi and even has sex with him after he starts holding her captive. It's unsurprising, since she's probably desperate for any affection in the situation, plus she'd felt attraction toward him before. Likely the source of the film's name.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Andi's student Franka notices he was watching her during gym class. When she spots him later on the street, Franks follows him home and comes on to Andi, obviously wanting this. He firmly rebuffs her though.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: Andi turns out to hold women captive in his apartment (Clare and Nathalie, a Canadian tourist previously, perhaps more). Even his own father is entirely ignorant about Andi's true character, as he comes off as a normal and charming man, aside from a few moments where he seems "off". Even then though he just seems weird or rude, not dangerous.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Andi forcibly ties Clare to the bed when she resists him, bangs her fingers in a door when she tries to escape, and slaps her for calling him "abnormal".
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