STARRING: LAIA COSTA; FREDERICK LAU; FRANZ ROGOWSKI; BURAK YIGIT; MAX MAUFF
DIRECTED BY: SEBASTIAN SCHIPPER
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
The single-shot movie will either work for you or it won’t. I won’t deny that in Sebastian Schipper’s film, Victoria, it can be at times exhausting, yet the process of achieving a success of this nature is extremely hard to pull off, and here is a movie that does it. We begin with the opening shot in a nightclub, where the music is pounding, the strobe lights are blinking us into a trance, and the doe-eyed title character (played superbly by Laia Costa) is dancing without a care in the world. And away we go into a one-take film that spins you around, takes you out on the town with Victoria, including a visit into the dark alleys of Berlin and one roller coaster of a night.
The film itself is a relentless effort, with the camera never leaving Victoria’s point of view. She is a former piano student who is now living abroad in Germany. On her way out of the club, she meets Sonne and his three buddies, who make drunken American Frat boys look like cuddly puppies. They have names like Boxer, Blinker, and Fus, and are sure to crack rude jokes at Sonne as he gives his best efforts to catch Victoria’s eye. She is a bit weary, but Sonne’s charm works, and we start to follow the two walking together, getting to know one another for just one night. When they find themselves alone in the café where Victoria works, there is a romantic, beautiful, fleeting moment between two strangers who just met.
You always expect movies like this to find ways around making it look like it was all done in one take, but for Schipper and his crew, you will be happy to know that they shot the film twice and chose which one they liked best. Unlike a film such as Birdman, which used pauses in the action, or cuts to the sky, this is the real deal. In an astonishing run time of 138 minutes, we are seeing it all in one take. As the movie shows, a lot can happen in one night.
The romance for Sonne and Victoria passes when the group of friends interrupts their connection. It is at this point where Victoria will wish she had made different choices. The film turns into a fast-paced heist that involves Victoria helping along the way. It is a tough change of pace to keep up with, which may also show that I am getting older, because I wanted Victoria to go home and take a nap. When I say that you are experiencing an entire night out, that is exactly what it is.
I hope I am not underselling it. Victoria is a highly accomplished film, with a spectacular performance from Costas, whose portrayal of Victoria is natural, with facial gestures, internal strife, and self-sacrifice. You see, Victoria is more than just a “one take experience;” it is a cinematic adventure that succeeds at what it set out to do. I think you will enjoy a one-night stand with Victoria, but you may need that nap when you’re done.
Written by: Leo Brady