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Everyone’s heard the phrase “Stockholm syndrome,” but where did the term come from? That’s the question that Robert Budreau’s film Stockholm answers.
As the film’s tagline says, the movie is “based on an absurd but true story” and stars Ethan Hawke and Noomi Rapace as a bank robber and hostage in Sweden who may or may not fall a little bit in love while he is her captor. The film is based on The New Yorker article “The Bank Drama” by Daniel Lang about the real-life occurrence in the ’70s.
The film celebrated its New York premiere Thursday night at the Museum of Modern Art, and writer-director Budreau said he wrote the film with Hawke in mind after the two collaborated on the film Born to be Blue about Chet Baker.
“The Stockholm syndrome itself is quite universal. It encapsulates all these situations where humans are trying to survive, whether it’s abusive relationships or hostage situations,” Budreau told The Hollywood Reporter. “But also the era, even though it takes place in the ’70s in Stockholm, there is something about Americana that hangs over the picture. I think now, with Trump, we’re living in a bit of the ’70s-feeling world. There was something about that that I thought was kind of topical even though it’s not a political movie.”
Hawke was excited to work to collaborate with Budreau again and the complexities of the characters. “We’re really making a drama launched off this idea,” said Hawke, calling the experience of acting in the film “one of the best” he’s ever had. “It’s such an unusual place to set a love story. The guy robs a bank and falls in love with his hostage, and she falls in love with him — briefly, maybe weirdly. It’s a movie I haven’t seen before.”
Rapace grew up in Sweden knowing about this story, and she said it was one of the roles she always wanted to play.
“She has a strength and a pride and an honor to her but she’s also super vulnerable,” Rapace said of her character. “She’s a normal woman in the ’70s, and I also think back then it was not common for women to speak up and have an opinion. And she associates an awakening.”
Budreau shot the film in sequence, which both Hawke and Rapace said helped them develop their characters’ complicated relationship.
“Remember we talked about this, when does the Stockholm syndrome actually happen? When’s the moment?” Rapace said to Hawke.
“Is it one moment is it a collection of moments?” Hawke said.