When a movie claims to be filmed entirely in one shot, it’s rarely the case—instead of one laborious planned shot, special tricks and barely-noticeable cuts are usually employed (like in Birdman ) to convey the overall effect, and although this is not a negative thing, it does make it all the more impressive when a film like Victoria comes along, and truly is shot in one take with no tricks, so it’s because of this that I decided I would write my review of this staggering film in one excessively packed run-on sentence, which may sound overwhelming, but I urge you to stick with me just as you stick with the camera’s vision in Victoria (no matter what) as it vacillates between abrasive strobe lights complemented with dance music and the calm, peaceful Berlin streets that wait outside at around 5AM, and it’s really during these tranquil hours that Victoria (played by the disarming Laia Costa) meets a group of drunken Berliners, and becomes enticed by their capricious nature as they take her around to their favorite spots (though it is with one of the young men in particular, Sonne [Frederick Lau] that Victoria takes a liking to, and between the moments of partying, the two share intimate conversations of revealing connection), and after some time has passed, the night of debauchery that Victoria has become involved in starts to drastically shift into something darker and more dangerous, though Victoria never seems to question her own involvement, rather she forges through the evening with a quiet but brazen attitude that never seems to falter until she finds herself fighting for her own life—and really knowing any more than this could potentially lessen your initial experience (although this is highly unlikely given how beautifully orchestrated and intimately shot this film is) but either way, the film is harrowing and utterly confounding, though it manages to build affecting portraits of nuanced characters who you get to know deeply, just as Victoria does, throughout the 138 minute running time—which seems to pass by much quicker, as it immensely builds you up early on, and remains as such the whole time, resulting in an unfailingly tense and beautiful cinematic experience.
Victoria opens tomorrow at the Ritz Bourse.
Author: Catherine Haas
Catherine Haas is a native Philadelphian who received her master’s in film history from Columbia University. She is a freelance film programmer, writer, and an avid pug enthusiast.