When actor turned director Sebastian Schipper (The English Patient) decided his next movie would be done in a single take, many probably thought he had lost his mind. But somehow, he’s made something that once seemed impossible (not to mention risky), and turned it into technical and emotional thrill ride of a film. Victoria is incredible, the actors outstanding, and the technical achievements remarkable.
So many things could have gone wrong with this risky attempt. But it says a lot of the capabilities of the film’s director, crew and actors that it turned out as well as it did. Victoria (Laia Costa) has only been in Berlin for three months and has no friends. After leaving a club, she meets a group of guys–Sonne (Frederick Lau), Blinker (Burak Yigit), Boxer (Franz Rogowski), and Fuß (Max Mauff)–who begin conversing and encourage her to hang out with them. Every time she says she has to go get ready to open up her cafe, they all find a reason to continue hanging out. And for a good hour, you’re content to watch them interact, laugh, talk, and just be. But after a favor comes due for Boxer, things take a turn and no one is quite prepared for what happens after.
Speaking from just a technical aspect, Victoria is a masterpiece. Last year’s Birdman looked like one take, but it was obviously edited to make it look that way. Schipper has gone the extra mile and attempted to shoot the film three different times. Having shot the film between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m., Schipper only had an outlined script so a lot of the scenes were improvised. The camerawork is superb and it’s almost like watching a home video, but with an interesting meet-cute and genuinely care-free moments that suddenly disappear when everything turns sour.
Laia Costa and Frederick Lau are utterly believable as two people who share a mutual attraction. You’re convinced at first that this just may be a love story as they continuously interact and flirt. The entire cast does a wonderful job remaining in character and portraying a range of emotions that must have been difficult to convey given the fact that they could only do it once. Costa and Lau are the center and they’re each experiencing their own emotional roller coaster, one thing leading to another without any way to stop its trajectory. And they do it all so gracefully and realistically.
The plot gets to be a bit too unbelievable near the end, but Schipper has an extraordinary task and he rises above and beyond any expectations. Victoria is superbly executed, character-driven, and full of twists and turns that will keep you watching and riveted to the screen at all times. Technically beautiful and one of a kind, the entire cast is completely involved the entire time and the tension is genuinely there and all too real. It’s a fantastic film with an adrenaline kick and doesn’t avoid the emotional vulnerability of its characters. One of my favorites of the year and deserving of every critical acclaim.
Release Date: October 9, 2015 | Director: Sebastian Schipper | Screenwriters: Sebastian Schipper, Olivia Neergard-Holm, Eike Frederik Schulz | Cast: Laia Costa, Frederick Lau, Franz Rogowski, Burak Yigit, Max Mauff, André Hennicke | Genre: Drama, Thriller | MPAA Rating: Not Rated