Posted Apr 01 2016

Victoria - This Movie Rocks The Single Take

Dir: Sebastian Schipper

Starring Laia Costa, Frederick Lau, Franz Rogowski, Burak Yigit

Schipper’s Victoria is both an impressive experiment and a remarkable film. Taking its cue in part from Birdman it is designed as one continuous shot, but lasting a remarkable 140 minutes. Unlike Birdman, it doesn’t use digital trickery to mask its narrative manipulations and flights of fancy – it really is one continual take. Which could be merely mundane if it were only a technical achievement, but as his movie progresses, and you attune to the late night/early morning rhythms of the piece, Schipper refuses to make things easy for himself. It begins with Spanish Victoria dancing away to pounding EDM in a strobe heavy club in the Berlin she has recently moved to. We follow her outside where she gets talking and walking with a group of young Berlin men. So far, so Euro-Linklater. We, they and the film meander, getting to know each other and there are times where you become increasingly aware of the single take device – when they take the lift to the roof, we have to go up with them, when Victoria decides to brush her teeth – we can’t cut to the end. But the atmosphere is strong and the performances – especially those of Costa and Lau as their tentative romance develops – are thoroughly engaging.

But still, bar the one shot concept, we are in the land of the ordinary and the low key. Then Schipper ups the stakes, dragging Victoria and her four new friends into a bank robbery (cleverly staged off camera) and then, just when you think the film has reached a natural conclusion as they return to the club from the opening – Schipper does it again, staging a police chase and shoot out in the dawn streets of Berlin. Talk about ambition!

Victoria could so easily have been a protracted gimmick, but its one shot set up becomes integral to its story, propelling Victoria into a long night of major event, something so inexorable that there is no time to avoid what transpires.  Lengthy teeth brushing aside, this becomes altogether something quite remarkable.


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