2016 Laia Costa, Frederick Lau, Franz Rogowski, Burak Yigit
Think back and picture the craziest night out you have ever had, got it? Now times that by 10 and throw in a bank heist...
Spanish cafe worker Victoria (Costa) meets 4 Berliners on a night out and sparks up an unlikely friendship. Things take a sudden twist however when ex convict Boxer (Rogowski) must return a favour for the man who offered him protection in prison. The favour is specified as a 4 person job and with one of the 4 men smashed out of his mind on drugs, Victoria reluctantly takes his place.
The USP of Victoria is that it is filmed entirely in one take, no cut-aways, no clever sweeps to disguise scene changes this is the real deal. This is extremely impressive and to my knowledge has never been done to this extent. The film is 2 hours 18 minutes and doesn't break shot once. This daring style of film making was a risk reward and puts the viewer in the shoes of a silent and invisible character. You feel totally immersed in the world and almost one of the characters. The camera crew were easily the stars of this film and deserve all the praise they have gained.
You are with the cast from start to finish, the audience travels through night clubs, rides in the backs of cars, inside posh hotels and even through a hail of gunfire. This makes for an unrivalled level of intimacy between audience and the characters as we are with Victoria through every decision and consequence. I truly connected with the people on screen, I cared for Victoria, felt sympathy for Sonne and I truly feared Boxer.
Victoria's pacing is a nail-biting slow burn, we loiter the streets and hangout on rooftops with the cast for at least the first half of the film. Things instantly pick up once the job gets under way, this was relatable in the way that snap decisions can have huge consequences. These decisions may seem insignificant at the time but they make way for larger and more dangerous ones to follow. This constant ramping up of tension and danger made for an exciting but at times harrowing watch. The film constantly made me question what I would do in certain situations and because the audience is essentially along for the ride we see the and feel the impact first hand.
A few people may take issue with the handheld style of film, however for the most part this was handled confidently. The pans were short and snappy without having that nauseating effect like in other productions. Another issue that may put people of is the subtitles, The character of Victoria is Spanish but speaks English throughout the film. The 4 Berliners however sometimes quickly transition from German to a thick accented English. This was sometimes difficult to keep pace with during the action sequences but not enough to break immersion.
By the end of the feature I could of sworn I had partied till 4 am, been in a high speed chase and felt the effects of cocaine all in the space of a couple of hours. I was really there, the film just convinced me and pulled me in from the outset. The bar has been well and truly raised.
Victoria reminds me why I fell in love with cinema, the connection t characters, the range of emotions and to ultimately the feeling of losing myself in another world. This is a daring and bold piece of film making that pushes the boundaries and raises the bar for technical achievement. A true gem and worthy of being called a masterpiece.