The 15 Best Movies About Stockholm Syndrome

8. A Perfect World (1993)

A Perfect World (1993)

This great drama directed by Clint Eastwood stars Kevin Costner in a daring role, playing Robert “Butch” Haynes, a dangerous escaped convict from the Huntsville prison. During an unexpected meeting with a frightened family, he kidnaps the 7-year-old Phillip. He kills his psychopathic partner Pugh and traverses the state with the child, as they quickly establish a friendly bond.

The boy is a victim of Stockholm syndrome; the kidnapper reminds him of his father, who left him long time ago. He paradoxically begins to feel free – Butch allows him to do different things such as eating sweets and wearing a costume of Casper the Friendly Ghost.

Eastwood skillfully showed the emotional processes in the mind of a small child in times of great stress, and how a bit of tenderness and understanding caused the boy to make friends with his kidnapper and he how was willing to help Butch escape to Alaska.


7. Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1989)

Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!

One of the most insane movies in the filmography of Pedro Almodovar is this remake of the classic 1965 movie “The Collector”. Ricky (Antonio Banderas) is released from a psychiatric hospital and first decides to visit his ex-lover, Marina (Victoria Abril). She is not interested in continuing their old relationship, which had ended awhile ago. The desperate man imprisoned her in her own house, knocked her unconscious, took her to her bedroom, and tied her to her bed.

With some time, the ties that supposed to be torturous became part of a sensual, erotic game leading to love. Marina is undoubtedly a victim of Stockholm syndrome, but owing to Almodovar’s comedy convention, we can use the term ‘victim’ lightly.

In contrast to the original movie made by William Wyler, this movie from the genius Spaniard tries to convince the spectator that absolutely everyone can find love, even in insane circumstances. Such a comedic atmosphere didn’t decrease main the dramatic plot, as Almodovar took a very clichéd story and made it magical and extraordinary.


6. The Night Porter (1974)

The Night Porter

This shocking film from Italian director Liliana Cavani is still worshipped and considered a bold and outstanding work, with a brilliant performance from Charlotte Rampling.

The action takes place in Vienna in the 1960s. Former SS officer Max (Dirk Bogarde) works in one of the hotels as a night porter; he recognizes the wife of one of hotel guests as his former victim of his, Lucia (Rampling), a then 15-year-old girl who was taken to a concentration camp. She also recognizes her torturer. In the camp, the killer and his victim formed a perverse bond which, in the present, explodes with an equally great and destructive force.

This movie is one of the most expressive images of Stockholm syndrome in cinema; in a strong way, it shows an offender can cause great devastation in the psyche of their victim. The need for domination and the desire to dominated created a destructive relationship that was based on a sickly attachment. Lucia was a perfect puppet and Max could not imagine any other woman able to fulfill his fetishistic visions in such a devoted way.


5. Interrogation (1982)

Krystyna Janda – Interrogation

One of the most notable movies in the history of Polish cinema, this film was directed by Ryszard Bugajski. The shocking story takes place in Poland in the 1950s and tells the story of a young girl named Antonina (Krystyna Janda) who was unjustly arrested by secret police. Over a month of interrogation, she fights with her abuser for her dignity.

Tadeusz Morawski (Adam Ferency) is one of the officers who interrogates Antonina. In the meantime, the cruel and structured man, who is caught up in communism, shows his better side.

An intimate relationship start to connect him and Antonina, due to this fact that the girl got pregnant by him. In the girl’s behavior we can notice classic signs of Stockholm syndrome; she starts to trust the abuser, fall in love with him, and beseeches him in her hour of need. The actors illustrate their bond in a spectacular way, which connects two tragic characters in difficult times, but this bond has to end in only one way.


4. Tom at the Farm (2013)

Tom at the Farm (2013)

This movie, directed by Xavier Dolan, is founded on the play by Michel Marc Bouchard of the same title, and they wrote the screenplay together. It shows us the unusual relationship between a young advertisement worker – the title character Tom, played by Dolan – with his family (mother and brother) and his dead boyfriend.

Even the outline of this relationship seems to be interesting and made properly deeper by the creators, reminding us of psychological study masters such as Michael Haneke or Pedro Almodovar.

Tom and Francis (Pierre-Yves Cardinal) have a tense relationship, located somewhere between a rough male friendship and a sadomasochistic romance; a symbol of that may be great scene where they dance the tango. In Dolan’s movie, nothing is said outright aside from the domination of Francis over Tom, both physically and mentally.

The main character is under the influence of Francis’ manipulation and the mysterious atmosphere of the farm, and with the traumatic experience surrounding his boyfriend’s death, he starts acting like a victim of Stockholm syndrome.

Tom offensively (and even aggressively) defends Francis’ behavior, and seems to not notice the fact that their relationship has destroyed him. There may be accusations that Dolan paid too much attention to his own character at the cost of the other elements of the film, both in the storyline and in realization. Still, this movie is a successful portrait of a toxic relationship that bears the marks of Stockholm syndrome.


3. Elle (2016)

The director of the cult film “Basic Instinct” is in splendid form here. This movie tells the story of Michelle (the peerless Isabelle Huppert), who is the owner of a computer game company. We know the heroine when she is raped by an unknown offender, as the tragic situation is watched by her cat, in catty, neutral way. Such an indifference also characterizes Michelle; this brutal rape is later described quietly with a group of friends over a glass of wine.

“Elle” doesn’t just feature a strong opening; Verhoeven tells us a story about fetishes and sexual deviations, which always artistically inspired him. At the same time, it is an obscure picture and it plays with the audience’s habits. Huppert – sometimes called “European Meryl Streep” – creates the role of a strong woman who balances on the edge of Stockholm syndrome, although it is difficult to read her intentions and feelings.

She discovers the identity of her perpetrator and has ambivalent feelings for him; she is attracted to her aggressor in a sexual way, but has some doubts about the moral classification of their relationship. What is important is that Verhoeven does not try to moralize, and gives viewers some easy answers.


2. Goya’s Ghosts (2006)

Goya’s Ghosts

In this movie, Milos Forman shows us Spain of 18th and 19th centuries. Father Lorenzo fascinated by a young girl, Ines, who is the muse of Francisco Goya, and is also accused of heresies.

Goya is court painter who is respected thanks to his paintings of famous, influential people. He observes what is happening in the state and immortalizes different degenerations of war, barbarity and human stupidity. Goya asks Lorenzo for help, but unfortunately their attempts are ineffective, and Ines goes to the Inquisition dungeon.

The girl is undoubtedly a victim of Stockholm syndrome, as Father Lorenzo (the stunning Javier  Bardem in one of the best performances of his career) sexually abuses the innocent young woman. Ines was left alone and suffering for a long time, which irreversibly affected her psyche, as she sees Lorenzo as the loving father of their child and her only possible savior.

The movie portrays not only the dark era of the Spanish Inquisition, but it is allegory of the cruel and unfair suffering of innocent individuals in different times. Forman’s movie is also evidence that the existence of Stockholm syndrome is nothing new in the world.


1. The Piano Teacher (2001)


This film is a remarkable screen adaptation of Elfriede Jelinek’s novel, directed by Michael Haneke. The 40-year-old Erica (Isabelle Huppert again!) is a piano teacher in a Viennese conservatory, who lives with her lonely and overprotective mother. Erica is a woman who cannot manage a normal relationship with a man; she loves watching porn and she attains sexual satisfaction by peeking at other people. At a concert she meets a young student named Walter (Benoit Magimel)

Haneke is a master at creating deep and ambiguous portraits of characters in a distinctive way. We can see Huppert as a heroine,, who is amazing in such a difficult role. In this case, her character gets into a hard relationship with a young pianist, and although he falls in love with her with true youthful madness, he is also too immature to accept her completely.

In turn, Erica stays in a toxic relationship with her mother and over the years, she struggles with her psychological and sexual demons. They both suffer from Stockholm syndrome at different stages of their relationship. Erica – when she enjoys the pleasure of his aggression. Walter – when he loves her despite/thanks to his humiliation.

Author Bio: Patryk Kosenda is a Polish poet and literature student. He is a stoner movies fan and hates Richard Gere’s acting.