DEADLY DEAD – Over the last few years, I’ve come to admire actress Teresa Palmer’s body of work, as she’s consistently taken on intriguing projects like Knight of Cups (with Terrence Malick), Warm Bodies, and last year’s Lights Out (as I entered the interview, she mentioned that work on a script for the sequel is currently underway). Her latest project, Cate Shortland’s Berlin Syndrome, recently premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and follows her character, Clare, after she finds herself being subtly abducted following a night of passion with Andi (Max Riemelt), a teacher who wants to keep her tucked away from the world forever after their romp.
In Park City, Daily Dead had the opportunity to speak with both Palmer and Riemelt about their experiences working on Berlin Syndrome, their collaborative relationship together and with director Shortland, and the complicated connection their characters share in the film.
Great to speak with you both, and congrats on the film. What you guys managed to create in this movie is just wonderful. We’ve seen a lot of movies with this idea of somebody being abducted, but it’s always very entrenched in this big violent act. This story really creeps up on you. Going into this, was that something you guys recognized as well?
Max Riemelt: It was, but you also never know what is going to come out in the editing. What is not shown is sometimes even more important. That’s the lesson I learned yesterday while watching the movie at the premiere. It is in a way unconventional that you don’t see sometimes the horror in the face or that certain stuff when it comes to these kinds of movies. It allows the audience to get to think for themselves, especially as you’re digging through all the details Cate put into this movie.
Teresa Palmer: There’s so much attention to detail.
Max Riemelt: Yeah, but also there’s the perspective of Clare, and that is subjective. All of this is from out of her eyes, out of her perspective, and that’s what I liked the most. To get to feel how Clare sees the world and how she could feel, might feel. You don’t get the whole information. You get to think for yourself what it might feel like to be in this terrible situation like Clare, and how you might deal with it.
Max, your character is very complicated, obviously. There are some very deeply disturbing things that happen with him, but yet, there are still these moments of kindness and he’s very charismatic, too. You can see why Clare initially wouldn’t even recognize what’s happening to her because of his likeability.
Max Riemelt: Yeah, he’s a regular human being, very complex. He’s not a stereotype at all, and I appreciated that.
Teresa Palmer: Things in this movie are not so black and white, just being a story about the captor and the captive. Life is not black and white. It’s many shades of colors. That’s the same as human beings. One of my favorite scenes, I actually only just picked it up the second time I watched it, was when we’re in the forest and it’s snowing and he has such empathy for that little boy who hurts his leg.
In a different movie, the captor wouldn’t care about someone else. In fact, he’d be irritated that someone would take his attention away from the job that he’s currently doing. You see him care about this little boy’s well-being. He’s not just an evil person. He’s a human being with layers and complexity. That’s why you understand why she falls for him in this weird way.Continue Reading
THE FILM STAGE – While the recent 10 Cloverfield Lane and Room told stories of captivity with various hooks — science-fiction and the process of healing, respectively — Cate Shortland’s approach in her latest, harrowing drama Berlin Syndrome makes room for more nuance and depth. Locked in a Berlin apartment, there is little hope for our protagonist for nearly the entire runtime. And while some of the story’s turns can feel overtly manipulative, Shortland finds a bracing humanity in depicting the perverse situation of Stockholm syndrome.
Attempting to figure out what she wants from life, Clare (Teresa Palmer) leaves her Brisbane home to head to Berlin where she spends her first days as a tourist photographing the architecture and meeting locals. One day at a crosswalk, she meets the initially charming, reserved Andi (Max Riemelt). After a few encounters, they go on a date and return to his secluded apartment where they make love, a scene in which Shortland’s eye for sensuality makes the revelation of the trauma to come all the more distressing. When Andi goes to his work as an English teacher the next day, Clare finds herself locked in the apartment by a deadbolt, her SIM card missing, and surrounded by reinforced windows with no hope of breaking open.
After Andi makes an excuse the first day that he forgot to leave the keys, on the second day of captivity, Clare initially attempts to reason with him. Andi’s chilling obliviousness to the clear pain he’s inflicting makes for one of the menacing villains in some time. As he offers questions about which ingredients Clare prefers in their dinner or how she’d rate their relationship on a scale from 1-10, there’s unsettling impact tied to his mannerly demeanor. An attempt at a backstory tied to his father and his estranged mother is less effective than when we simply the threat in his actions with Clare.
Palmer, with her sullen eyes, gives a miraculous performance, weaving between a layered emotional spectrum of outright physical hostility to veiled acceptance in hopes for an escape. Often unable to articulate the horrors of the situation, her subtle glances and gestures speak volumes to her determination for freedom by any means necessary. It’s no easy task for an actor to give range when inflicted by dominating hideousness for nearly two hours, but Palmer is thoroughly mesmerizing in conveying both her emotional and physical pain.
Adapted from Melanie Joosten’s novel by Shaun Grant (also behind the equally grim drama The Snowtown Murders), the reaction to the drama will correlate with how much stamina one has for witnessing pure evil. With a dynamic this unbearable to witness, Shortland imbues a complex psychology to the script through her tactile style. Shot by Germain McMicking, there’s a textured feel for both the location and the characters, often using close-ups and inserts to leave a full-bodied impression of the circumstances.
With mentions of past division in Germany surrounding the Berlin Wall, as well as other historical and literary metaphors peppered throughout, Shortland smartly never makes an overt political analogy. In this tale of female imprisonment, everything can be gleaned from the central relationship: a domineering male figure believes he has the final authority on a female’s mind and body. Berlin Syndrome was conceived within the haunting specters of the past, and it proves history will always repeat itself.
Berlin Syndrome premiered at Sundance Film Festival and will be released by Vertical Entertainment and Netflix.
Teresa talks about being Harry Potter’s first kiss and just how much pressure she felt from Daniel Radcliffe’s fans while filming ‘December Boys’.
INDIEWIRE – Netflix and Vertical Entertainment have acquired the psychological thriller “Berlin Syndrome,” with Vertical handling the North American theatrical release and Netflix getting the streaming rights, Deadline reports. The film was purchased for an amount in the low to mid seven figures and will screen in Sundance’s World Dramatic Competition on Friday, January 20th.
Directed by Cate Shortland (“Lore”), the film stars Teresa Palmer and Max Riemelt. Palmer plays an Australian photographer who has a romantic encounter with a man in Berlin (Riemelt) and soon finds herself locked in his apartment.
The acquisition a week before Sundance begins is just the latest example of distributors buying up movies before festival bidding wars even have a chance to start. Last weekend, A24 purchased a film sight unseen: David Lowery’s “A Ghost Story,” starring Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara. A handful of other deals have also closed ahead of the fest.
“Berlin Syndrom” was produced by Aquarius Films, Entertainment One, Memento Films International, Screen Australia, Film Victoria, Fulcrum Media Finance, and DDP Studios.
Vertical is planning an early summer 2017 theatrical release. UTA Independent Film Group handled the sale.
Teresa made her very first appearance at the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills last night (January 8, 2017) to support ‘Hacksaw Ridge’. After the ceremony, she was joined by her husband Mark Webber, they both attended the post-party hosted by Warner Bros. and InStyle. She is wearing a custom Armani Prive dress, Niwaka jewelry, Sophia Webster shoes, and a Jimmy Choo bag. Gorgeous!
Many thanks to our friends Annie, Maria and Mouza for their help.
Public Appearances > Appearances From 2017 > 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards
Public Appearances > Appearances From 2017 > Warner Bros. And InStyle’s Annual Golden Globes Party
THE PLAYLIST – It’s a good time of year to be a movie lover, not only because the best Hollywood has to offer is hitting cinemas, but because January will bring with a whole new batch of films to obsess over. The conversation on what’s next will begin at the Sundance Film Festival, and one movie we have our eye on is “Berlin Syndrome.”
The latest from Cate Shortland (“Lore,” “Somersault“), is based on the book by Melanie Joosten, stars Teresa Palmer and Max Riemelt, and follows a young woman whose German vacation takes a dark turn. Here’s the synopsis:
A passionate holiday romance takes an unexpected and sinister turn when an Australian photographer wakes one morning in a Berlin apartment and is unable to leave.
These two clips promise an eerie offering from Shortland, and we can’t wait to see the whole thing.
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