Film: Victoria

"I'm the big driver."

A young Spanish woman out clubbing in Berlin befriends a group of guys. They instantly hit it off, and talk her into being the driver for a heist they are planning.

Shot over two hours all in one take, Victoria is undoubtedly an impressive technical exercise. Crucially, the concept actually works rather well in practice so the notion that this is a gimmick quickly melts away.

There are three key parts; the hour before the heist, the two minutes of the job itself, and the hour after. The first hour is really what shines; Victoria and Sonne (one of the guys in the club) make an instant connection, and their relationship feels genuine - like watching a couple of friends fall for each other. The characters are improvising and coming up with what to do as they go along, and the one-take idea accentuates the feeling of chaotic fun.

However, as the notion of the heist comes about, things become a little more forced and less plausible. For the first hour the format works for the film, for the last hour it’s more like the film is a slave to the format.

The words ‘intense’ and ‘rollercoaster’ have been used a lot to describe this film. I’m not sure I agree. There are massive tonal shifts and it’s all very unpredictable, but the pivotal moments really take the wind out of its sails. If by ‘rollercoaster’ you mean ‘vehicle that goes downhill, slowing to a halt’ then you might be closer to the mark.

I don’t want to be too negative though. Victoria is definitely a technical masterpiece as well as being a compelling thriller. It’s also punctuated by moments of beauty that could not have been rehearsed. It takes a lot of nouse to really seize the moment, but that is what happens on several occasions.

What’s more, there’s something really exciting about watching the sun come up in real time. When I stepped out of the cinema you could have told me it was 7am and I’d have believed you.

Flawed, but without a doubt worth two hours of your time. Not bad for a day’s work.

Sebastian Schipper | 2015 | IMDB | Wikipedia