The Stockholm syndrome is a puzzling psychological phenomenon, from time to time mentioned in the media when situations of hostage-taking occur and similar behaviours have been observed. Defined by the website of the Encyclopedia Britannica as a “psychological response wherein a captive begins to identify closely with his or her captors, as well as with their agenda and demands” its origins are found in a bank robbery in Stockholm, in 1973, where three hostages were taken. “Stockholm,” the film directed by Robert Budreau and based on the 1974 “New Yorker” article “The Bank Drama” by Daniel Lang, takes a very detailed approach to the story, balancing elements of comedy with those of drama.
The film almost immediately takes us to the central dramatic element: Lars Nystrom, (Ethan Hawke) enters the main branch of a bank in downtown Stockholm in a way that has no doubts about his intentions: do what he says or be shot. That would be the line he would follow, and even the then Prime Minister will have to deal with his demands. One of the exigencies he had for the authorities would be the release of his pal Gunnar (Mark Strong), who would join him in the bank together with the three hostages. The police chief reluctantly had to agree to that demand, and eventually, his own incompetence in dealing with the issue will contribute to the attitude of the hostages. Paradoxically, the hostages feel not very safe with the police actions.
There are two female hostages Bianca Lindt (Noomi Rapace) and Klara Mardh (Bea Santos) of which Bianca would have a crucial role. Married to a husband who seems to be a bore (played by Thorbjørn Harr) and the mother of two small children, she would be the voice of reason in a situation where everybody seemed to be acting crazily. At one point she even suggested that she would trust her captors better than the police in the case of staging an assault to liberate them.
“Stockholm”, a Canadian-Swedish coproduction, is a well-made film, the drama is built in a way that keeps the spectator always interested, and the elements of absurdity contribute to see the situation in a way that makes people think about what would they do in case of finding themselves in a similar predicament.
Recommended for everyone, although most probably the subject will not be of interest for young kids.
Running Time: 92 min