You’re unlikely to get Stockholm syndrome from this dud


You’re unlikely to get Stockholm syndrome from this dud

The actors in 'Stockholm' do their best to rise above the director's shambolic attempt to hold audiences hostage

Tymon Smith

It’s now a common phrase to describe the unusual but very real bond that may develop between hostage and kidnapper but until the 1970s the term “Stockholm syndrome” didn’t exist. It came about as the result of the events told in Canadian director Robert Budreau’s latest film and written about in a famous 1974 New Yorker article by journalist Daniel Lang detailing a bank robbery in the Swedish capital.

Employing a large pinch of poetic licence, Budreau has recast the original bank robber, Swede Jan-Erik Olson, as an unpredictable Bob Dylan, flop-haired, pill-popping American robber named Lars (Ethan Hawke) who storms into Stockholm’s central bank and announces that “this is a bank robbery and you’d better take it seriously”. He then takes two bank tellers, including the beguiling but beleaguered Bianca Lind (Noomi Rapace), hostage and so begins the retelling of a case that kept Sweden and the world glued to their television screens for days.

Budreau and Hawke previously collaborated on the promising but ultimately uneven and unfocussed 2015 biopic of jazz musician Chet Baker, Born to be Blue. Here Hawke once again displays his ability as an actor to create characters who have an easy-going, rambling charm while hiding a reservoir of complex dark emotions behind the façade. But as was the case with Born to be Blue, Hawke’s strong performance is unfortunately subsumed by a lack of clarity in the direction, which, disappointingly, fails to capitalise on the film’s opening credit assurances that this is all based on “an absurd but true story”...

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