Tribeca Film Festival: Stockholm (2018) reviewed by Jonathan Berk

Stockholm (2018) is a film based on a true story of a hostage crisis in Sweden which took place back in 1973. The film, which is written and directed by Robert Budreau (Born to Be Blue and That Beautiful Somewhere), starts strong with a close-up on Bianca Lind (Noomi Rapace) having a conversation with someone behind the camera. She mentions the concept of Stockholm Syndrome, a condition where hostages develop a bond with their captors, that sets the stage for what the film will be discussing. Budreau and his cast do a terrific job of telling this story in a compelling, believable way.

Stockholm is a compelling crime story with great characters and performances

The first shots of Kaj Hansson (Ethan Hawke) show him on a sailboat brushing his mustache, putting on a wig and leather jacket with the Texas flag on the back of it, as he sails into Sweden. He takes a cab into town, carrying a large duffel bag, and calmly walks into a bank. As he pulls out a radio and a gun, it’s clear that this is no ordinary bank robbery. There are tons of hostages when the robbery begins, and he sends all but a few out immediately. He notices that Bianca has pressed the silent alarm, and when she confirms that in fact, she had, he simply says, “Good.”

The film takes off from there, staying as engaging as this opening moment. Once it’s clear what Kaj wants after initial negotiations with Chief Mattsson (Christopher Heyerdahl) for the release of Gunnar Sorensson (Mark Strong), a notorious bank robber currently in prison. A stand-off ensues between Kaj and the police, and Budreau now is tasked with revealing more of the characters and the relationships between hostages and captor. He executes this task very well, and his incredible cast make these moments believable.

Hawke and Rapace are the definite highlights. Their relationship that develops over the course of the stand-off is organic. The chemistry between the two actors is strong, and it really sells each moment that they share. Early on in the hostage situation, Hawke is playing Kaj as in control but slightly manic. Bianca seems to be keeping her cool despite his constant waving of a gun, and takes his directions exactly as instructed. There is this instant trust portrayed, reflecting that he doesn’t want to hurt her, but would be willing to do it if he doesn’t’ get what he’s after. It’s definitely the subtlety of Rapace’s performance that sells this connection, which grows naturally throughout the course of the film.

Final thoughts…

Stockholm is absolutely a film that I would watch again. It’s a compelling look at the origin of the phrase “Stockholm syndrome”, and it manages to put the audience in the captor’s shoes. We are rooting for the criminals, just as the captors begin to as they connect with the people attempting to pull off the crime. Stockholm earns the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.


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