Stockholm Syndrome [Tribeca 2021]

Jun 21, 2021
By Kaveh Jalinous

Web Exclusive

The Architects’ Stockholm Syndrome is the first documentary about Rakim Myers, more famously known as rapper A$AP Rocky. The documentary’s first act explains the rapper’s quick rise in both the music and fashion world. Mixing archival footage with interviews with the rapper himself and with his close family and friends, the documentary initially comes off as just another modern-day musician biopic. Things all take a turn in 2019, though, when Rocky and two members of his crew are arrested in Sweden for aggravated assault. Even with hordes of video evidence and testimonials suggesting they acted out of self-defense, the three are placed in a Swedish jail until their trials begin.

Stockholm Syndrome quickly transitions to a legal thriller documentary, chronicling both the experiences Rocky went through in jail and following the fight on the other side to get him out. The film relies heavily on interviews with Rocky’s lawyer, who explains the judicial system in Sweden, recounts the struggle to communicate with the rapper while he was in jail and discusses the mistreatment Rocky received behind closed walls. His and Rocky’s testimonials are also mixed with news clippings covering the event as it unfolded, most notably Donald Trump’s involvement in trying to extradite the rapper out of Sweden.

Stockholm Syndrome is successful in avoiding all of the trappings of the typical musician biopic. By spending only a little bit of time exploring Rocky’s career and instead zooming in on a specific series of events, the film feels grounded and focused. The documentary also provides a variety of different perspectives both on Rocky’s career and his predicament in 2019. The film’s interviewees range from various members of Rocky’s team to high-profile stars like Kim Kardashian and Naomi Campbell.

While the various interviews do provide deeper insight into A$AP Rocky’s Swedish imprisonment, Stockholm Syndrome still suffers from feeling generally surface-level. For those who followed Rocky’s story closely or even from a distance – whether through Twitter, the news or word-of-mouth – barely any of the information from the documentary feels new or surprising. By far, the most intriguing part of the documentary is hearing Rocky’s opinions and reactions to his imprisonment. When the rapper discusses how Donald Trump’s intervention made things worse for his situation or how the entire experience has inspired him to make change and fight for those who are still locked up, the documentary feels genuinely interesting and rewarding. Unfortunately, in an already overstuffed 107-minute film, scenes like these aren’t nearly common enough to stand out from the documentary’s glorified news coverage structure.


Author rating: 5/10

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