Sebastian Schipper, Germany, 2015
A single take capturing a heist in real time.
What could have been pure novelty – however enjoyable – becomes something much more due to exemplary performances. Given the constraints, ‘Victoria’ runs an entire gamut of emotions as lonely Spanish woman in Germany Victoria falls in with a group of capering Berliners, falls deeper and deeper with them and then discovers herself in a crime film.
‘Victoria’, manages to use the intimacy of the hand-held without, for the most part, the problematic incoherence of vertiginous shaky-cam; it shows up the pretensions of Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s ‘Birdman’ one-take-trick-shot (however agreeable). It’s a surprisingly convincing storytelling considering all that happens takes place over more than a couple of hours. If anything, the film displays how the entire scope of drama can take place in such a short space of time. Yes, the one shot by cinematographer Sturla Brandth Grøvlen is remarkable, quite stunning for its consistency as it weaves and dips the highs and lows of the drama; but it’s Laia Costa’s performance as Victoria and Frederic Lau as Sonne that will remain as an aftertaste, the camera often focusing right on their faces and expressions, returning to them again and again to trace the changes and reactions there. Funny, angry, vulnerable, resourceful, stupid, raw, impulsive, ruthless, charming – it’s all there in all the characters in this compressed scenario. Director Sebastian Schipper never allows the single take conceit to be the sole focus, but rather allows it to provoke a naturalism that reaps great rewards. As a technical, storytelling and acting achievement, it’s quite breathtaking.