“One City. One Night. One Take.” That is the advertised premise of Sebastian Schipper’s Victoria, in which a twentysomething Spanish transplant (Laia Costa) living in Berlin, Germany, hooks up with a charmer (Frederick Lau) and his cronies—Blinker, Boxer, and Fuß. The two-hour plus movie is shot in one take. Cinematographer Sturla Brandth Grøvlen filmed three versions of Victoria; the third was the best. Immersing the viewer, the one take generates the visceral fuel that powers the film. Victoria doesn’t fling around lofty notions or scripted retorts, although, to accept Victoria, we must extend Schipper some artistic licence: One may wonder how Victoria got hired to work at a cafe when she doesn’t speak German, or why she’d be so reckless as to jeopardize her life for a stranger. Although Victoria subverts many thriller tropes with its realism, it is ultimately a stylish genre film. Critics who bristle at style, for whom character development must come at the end of every beat, will argue that the one shot is a conceit, an instance in which the mode of storytelling consumes the story. This is not the case here. Before the story turns, there is an extended first section, mumblecore-esque in its grammar, in which characters are introduced organically and interact realistically. What follows is raw cinema, an experience that envelops the viewer in gaiety and terror, shifting moods as the night fades into the morning.
In German & English & Spanish.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White