Written and directed by Sebastian Schipper / Starring Laia Costa
Following its debut at the Berlin Film Festival, Sebastian Schipper’s VICTORIA caused quite the stir. Right off the heels of BIRDMAN, the film is made in one continuous shot. Unlike the Oscar winner for Best Picture winner though, VICTORIA was in fact shot in just one take, so with no cuts, or at least that is what Schipper is leading people to believe.
We meet our title character, played by Laia Costa, as she dances in a Berlin nightclub. On her way out of the club, Victoria meets some men who she decides to spend some time with. She forms an instant bond with Sonne (Frederick Lau), and the two begin a late night courtship of sorts. After getting some alone time away from Sonne’s friends, the two become more and more attracted to one another. Their courtship is interrupted when Boxer (Franz Rogoski) demands Sonne’s attention. Victoria follows, and before she knows it, is thrust into a life-altering robbery plot.
While this “one-take wonder” shtick may be the best thing VICTORIA has going for it from a marketing standpoint, it does not really do much to help the actual film. Sure, it is impressive if Schipper was actually able to capture the film’s entirety in one shot, but that does not automatically make VICTORIA an incredible film. A well-crafted film and a well-executed film are two very different things. Ultimately, the one take thing is cool, but it adds very little to the overall product. Take it away and we are left with a heist film that spends far too much time with its characters with little to show for it. With the exception of a beautiful scene at a piano between Victoria and Sonne, the audience is not given the opportunity to learn much about these characters, making it difficult to care about them in the long run. This usually would not be a huge issue, but if the film is going to spend nearly an hour with the characters before the main plot sneaks in, it better have something to show for it.
VICTORIA is a decent thriller. Once things pick up, it becomes rather spellbinding, regardless of whether or not we have sympathy for the protagonists. The camera work is great, sticking to Victoria like glue, but that cannot make up for the many flaws in the film. One must congratulate Schipper on the massive technical achievement, even though it often does more harm than good.
How many sheep would you give Victoria?