Inspired by true event in '73, this bankheist was like no other--it defined the Stockholm syndrome.
Director: Robert Budreau (Born to Be Blue)
Cast: Ethan Hawke (First Reformed), Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
Runtime: 1 hr 32 min
By: John DeSando
“Their resistance to outside help and their loyalty toward their captors was puzzling, and psychologists began to study the phenomenon in this and other hostage situations.” Rachel Lloyd
It doesn’t pay to second guess Bianca Lind’s (Noomi Rapace) falling for her abductor, Lars Nystrom (Ethan Hawke), in the real life 1973 heist/abduction that originated the descriptor, Stockholm Syndrome. Even as romantic as writer/director Robert Budreau makes the situation, no matter how crazy-charming he makes Lars, the situation, close to life or death, strains credulity.
Although the scene has been regularly described as “absurd” by officials and the media, Budreau and his first-rate actors create a reality that at the very least reminds me of Sidney Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon. Dog is another hostage situation at a bank with Sonny (Al Pacino) seeking funds for a sex change for his lover. Sounds absurd until you feel the human emotions involved; in Stockholm the sympathy flows between mother Bianca, with a weak husband, and the defiant but “soft” Lars.
Lars had been known to save a heart-attack victim at a heist and shows care for the hostages in the Stockholm bank. The two actors are so good, you can forgive his larceny and understand her attraction to him. It is by no means to exculpate Lars or to condemn the police for using gas—what else could they do?
No one would think that the cinematic setups of this heist are an accurate rendition of the Norrmalmstorg robbery, yet the heightened passions; Lars’ motive to spring his bank robbery buddy, Gunnar (Mark Strong); and the imperfect strategies of Chief Mattsson (Christopher Heyerdahl) ring true in any situation. Stockholm is a stock situation riddled with humanity, and some light humor (see the bumbling husband), to make an eccentric spin on an old formula.
Enjoy the characters, and let your reality demands take a sideline.
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com