“One City. One Night. One Take", boast the promos for Sebastian Schipper's blistering crime flick/romance, Victoria. There's no getting around what the film promises to be, a two-hour plus story all done in one camera shot, and honestly so, not a series of clever edits like Birdman. While the "gimmick" of the single-take sequence has grown tiresome and a crutch too many filmmakers lean on as proof of their supposed skill, Schipper uses it to brazen, ballsy effect, crafting a cinematic experience that is unlike any other you'll experience this year.
Victoria is one of those films it's best to go in to completely cold, because where it begins is a total 180 from where it ends up. Shot across 22 locations with a razor thin screenplay to encourage improvisation, the film takes place in the late night party hearty hours of Berlin, where we meet Victoria (Laia Costa) as she dances the evening away. A Spanish transplant looking to make new friends, she encounters four guys who instantly look like they could be trouble. We can't help but fear the worst. The street toughs are Sonne (Frederick Lau), Boxer (Franz Rogowski), Blinker (Burak Yigit), and Fuß (Max Mauff), and the ease with which Victoria latches on to them shows her disturbing desperation. Even as they start to get a little more belligerent, especially the rowdy Boxer, Victoria doesn't want to leave their orbit. She's only got a couple of hours before she has to open up the cafe for work, but leaving her newfound friends is simply something she doesn't want to do.
Part of the reason she won't leave is the casual, completely charming flirtation she shares with Sonne, and their growing attraction encapsulates the film's first hour. As dizzying as DP Sturla Brandth Grovlen's camera was in the opening party scene, it takes a less intrusive position as these two organically fall in love over the evening's course. Their courtship takes some small, awkward diversions, but builds naturally. There's the reticence about that first romantic contact, the offering up of personal, somewhat embarrassing information. We're so invested in them that if this is all the film were it would still be a richly observed romantic drama.
But it's just a facade, a clever ruse to lower our guards. A phone call to Boxer sends the film into an unexpected overdrive as a heist plot emerges that will leave you breathless. The original single-shot conceit takes on a greater urgency as events spiral out of control. Driven by chaotic plotting rather than understated characterization, the film takes on a completely different kind of energy. The transition from astute Before Sunrise-style love story to kinetic thriller in the vein of Run Lola Run is seamless. Some of the decisions the characters make, and the bonkers situations they get thrown into, stretch the limits of plausibility. However it's the continuous camerawork and the grip it has on you that never allows a moment to consider flaws in logic. There's also no denying the exhilaration in the film's change in genre, with the ensuing fallout producing some wildly tense and gorgeously shot action sequences. A shootout later on is as beautifully rendered as an earlier, quieter scene in which Victoria plays the piano for an enraptured Sonne.
Looking back on Victoria it's amazing to think it was all done in a single take in only a few run-throughs. The level of commitment from Laia Costa to so completely embody the role of Victoria is astonishing because the film hangs on her ability to do so. While somewhat overlong and a bit slow in the early going, Victoria literally has something for everybody. It works as a love story, a stirring drama, and an exciting crime thriller. Once it's over you'll be dying to watch it one more time to see how such an achievement could be accomplished.
One of the greatest films I have ever seen. It is an absolute masterpiece. The single take adds so much to the emotion. I would recommend this to any adult or mature teen. The execution of the long take is amazing, the casts ability is so clear from this film. the camera work alone is enough to merit calling Victoria a masterpiece. But all parts, the writing, choreography, casting, setting, pace, sound, and acting, were executed to produce a truly amazing film experience.
Victoria is a single-take German thriller sensation. Set in Berlin we go on a wild ride with a Spanish girl Victoria, picked up by Berliners in a night club. The predominant language spoken is in their shared language, English. Victoria is naïve to share her night with these 4 males, but the acting of this 3rd take non-stop serves the plot. There is the sheer chutzpah of everyone involved. They take her (and her bike) up to a roof-top and gaze at the stars. Victoria is a bit giddy as she aided Sonne to steal beer from an off-license(owner was sleeping). She also goes close to the edge on the roof-top, worrying Sonne,who tells her to come away.She keeps on saying she has to go to work in an early morning café,she needs to get sleep, but is drawn to these gamblers of the moment(who have stolen a car). She finds it harder to withdraw,she has crossed the line that binds them. She invites Sonne into her place of work early before work begins, so she can prepare things.The other men go off somewhere, and when they return Boxer says he has to return a favour to someone who protected him in prison, he has promised to take part in a bank robbery,and because 4 people are needed and one of the men incapacitated, Victoria too gets drawn into this heist. She agrees to be the get-away driver. She seems to go along with this crazy punt.
The actors are under tremendous pressure,especially the two leads, who are given a degree of flexibility, in terms of improvising their lines. The exhilaration comes from knowing they have to do it in one go, with the risks involved. Some of the plot turns are implausible, but you go for the ride,the excitement of being in a foreign city, being shown the adventure of the “real Berlin” to Victoria. Has she any motivation? She tells Sonne about her sense of failure and ennui (would-be concert pianist still bruised by her failure to make the grade). Due to a language barrier between Victoria and her new German friends,she is left out of crucial conversations which the audience with the benefit of subtitles,understand,emphasising Victoria’s vulnerability. There is an episode when Victoria and Sonne escape from a police shoot-out and get into someone’s apartment, and use the couple’s baby girl as part of a disguise to exit the building unchallenged by police. This shows a decline in Victoria’s morals. What I can’t decide is why she gives up her secure job in a cafeteria to drown in danger. Are we too taken in by appearances when we know very little about these people? Grovlen’s complex camerawork ducks and weaves through the shadows of a long, drunken night. The film takes you where it will lead. Laia Costa and Frederick Lau excellent in key roles.This has been an art-house smash in foreign language films by Sebastian Schipper, in his 4th feature.
The best film I saw at the 2015 Toronto Film Festival and one of the best films I've seen ever! It's a 2.5 hour film shot in one continuous take in the streets of Berlin. About a Spanish University student who befriends a group of guys at a night club and for the first half of the film wanders the streets of the city to discuss life and other topics like in "Before Sunrise" Then the film totally shifts gears and organically turns into a bank heist. At this point you are so totally immersed into the characters that you actually feel like you are a part of the heist and the ensuing police chase. It left me breathless at the end. Even though neither the director or any of the cast were in attendance at the screening, it got a standing ovation at the 1500 seat theater!