Victoria (2015): One Take Wonder – (Review)

Frederick Lau and Laia Costa in Victoria

“Victoria” co-written and directed by Sebastian Schipper is a “one take” wonder. All 134 minutes of the film is done in one continual shot and follows the award winning star Laia Costa, who plays title character Victoria. The camera watches the young woman as she experiences a long life-changing night with Sonne Frederick Lau and his three friends in Berlin. 

A young Spanish immigrant to the city falls in with a group of young men who welcome her to a night of fun and excitement that turns deadly.  This award winning film slipped under my radar and if @RealKateDavies not waxed ecstatic about this independent world cinema offering, it would have been missed altogether.

Schipper worked off a 12 page script apparently and this left the actors to improvise the vast majority of their dialogue. IMDb also states, in the Trivia section, that the film took three attempts before being completed in April 2014.

The film should be boring and at the beginning it seems to be mostly drunken dialogue from the men and  fractious English from both the guys and the girl.  Initially one does feel a certain uneasiness at this young Spanish beauty trustingly leaving a club with four male strangers who are inebriated and slightly wild. Almost certainly “bad boys” this tiny gang of young men seem to be good natured and all slightly enamored of their new friend.

Costa, won a Lola for her role in this film, (the first foreign actress to win the coveted German award) and watching Victoria it is easy to see why.  The Spanish actress carries the film, along with habit of help from German actor Lau, from start to finish.

Victoria (Costa) and Sonne (Lau) end up together almost by a combination of default and charm.  Sonne is the leader of this group of slightly naughty boys, out of the lot only Boxer did jail time (something that will come back to affect his joyously drunken evening/morning later) as an adult although Fuß stole a vehicle and drove it to Poland as a lad of 11.

The start of the film is one long moment of truth  after another. Each of the friends in Sonne’s “gang” have a surprising depth  of character and all react to their surroundings and circumstances in a way that feels real.  At well over two hours the film should not work.

It should drag and be so drawn out that the viewer loses interest. “Victoria” does not do this  however and it is a testament to the actors, director and the focus of each that make this a true experience to watch.

The three main stars of the film are Costa and Lau (Frederick also won an award for Best Actor), and of course Schipper, who pulled a gong for best director, all deserve multiple plaudits for “Victoria.” This thriller/drama occasionally comes across as a documentary and it does convey a certain “fly-on-the-wall” feeling, even down to the latter part of the film where things go so wrong.

Anyone who has lived, or even partied, in Europe will recognize the settings as well as the “feel” of the film.  The underground club, the cafe where Victoria works and the streets of Berlin all feel authentic, as well they should since the film was shot entirely in one take in the city itself.

“Victoria” is a 5 star film, it entertains and gets the viewer caught up in this quirky story and its characters. Quite possibly the best film I’ve seen this year from any World Cinema offering, this movie should be shown in filmmaking classes the world over as an example of how films should be made.

Streaming on Netflix at the moment, but not easy to find, search for the title. It is well worth that little bit of extra effort.

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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