Victoria (2015)
July 23, 2016 10:34 PM - Subscribe

A young Spanish woman who has newly moved to Berlin finds her flirtation with a local guy turn potentially deadly as their night out with his friends reveals a dangerous secret.

Brian Tallerico, “Victoria” is a breathtaking technical accomplishment. It’s right there in the tagline—“One City. One Night. One Take.” For 138 minutes, Sebastian Schipper and his cast filmed the entirety of “Victoria,” reportedly only doing the entire piece a few times and picking the best one. In other words, there are no “cheats” here. No hidden cuts when a door closes or someone walks by a suspicious wall. It is literally one take, and it takes place all over Berlin, at night, even developing into an intense action movie.

Guy Lodge, Variety: With its very opening image, Schipper’s film makes an unsubtle but effective grab for viewers’ attention, as the dizzying white scintillation of a dance-floor strobe light envelops the frame. Photosensitive epileptics should consider themselves warned, but it’s “Victoria” itself that, after a fashion, enters a state of seizure from this point, its impulses and reflexes in hot, compelling, irrational disarray. [...] The figure that eventually emerges from the dry-ice fog is Victoria (Laia Costa), an ingenuous twentysomething waitress from Madrid on a three-month working trip to Berlin. We eventually learn that she’s a stalled piano prodigy, but appears to have given herself over to the more metronomic rhythms of house music on a regular basis: Clubbing alone at 4 a.m. on a weeknight appears to be routine for her, even with the breakfast shift ahead at a cafe in the Mitte district. (Schipper and production designer Uli Friedrichs have cleverly organized the narrative’s geography around a condensed slab of the city center, fabricating locations where necessary to ensure nothing’s more than a hop, skip or minor taxi fare away.)

On her way out to catch a few hours’ shuteye, Victoria is approached at the coat check by the puppy-eyed, genially flirtatious Sonne (Frederick Lau), and humors his goofy pick-up shtick as far as the street outside, where his thuggish coterie of friends — including slap-headed ex-jailbird Boxer (Franz Rogowski) — are waiting. Perhaps more susceptible to their attention than she would be in a city where she had more friends, she agrees to go back to their place (or so they claim) for a few extra drinks, before sneaking off with Sonne to her closed workplace for a little one-on-one.

This extended meet-cute is kept from its seemingly inevitable conclusion — amid disarming banter about music and cold cocoa, the two are sweetly shy to kiss — when Sonne is called back by Boxer on an emergency mission, at which point the proceedings dive head-first into movie-movie territory. Turns out Boxer’s old prison protector Andi (a barking, leering Andre M. Hennicke) is demanding payback in the form of a €50,000 bank heist — a figure small enough to keep the film from the realm of fantasy, but still a task for which these substance-addled kids are hardly prepared. With Victoria roped in as the gang’s driver, it’s all go from there: The fallout of the crime is as breathless as the execution.

This film won six Lolas, the German equivalent of the Oscars&rt;, for Best Feature, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Cinematography, and Best Film Score.

posted by infinitewindow (7 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Tx for pointing this movie out. I enjoy German language movies so much.
It's a major feat to make this in one take.
I wonder though if I'd enjoyed the story more though with old fashioned editing. I often asked myself: why am I watching this?
posted by jouke at 11:54 AM on July 25, 2016

The movie aimed at making you feel like hanging out with the characters instead of like someone watching a movie, and it really worked. Maybe unfortunately so, because I never enjoyed hanging out with that kind of crowd in RL very much, and it was taxing here too.
I'm not sure it's a movie I could watch more than once. But I'm very happy I had a chance to see it once!

I loved Victoria herself and Sonne grows on you. This was the best movie I saw in 2015 and definitely the only ambitious one. It felt incredibly real, not least because everybody talked like real people, not like cinema people.
posted by Ashenmote at 4:50 PM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

There were a couple of minor points in the movie that I didn't quite buy - her going off so easily with these guys in the first place, being one of them - but the camera absolutely loves it's star and seeing as it is on her nearly ninety five percent of the time, you can't help but be mesmerized by her also. She did an excellent job.

And as a technical feat, wow - way to go guys. One take. There were a couple of flubs but hey - one take - that's as close to live theatre you're ever gonna get on the big screen.

So not perfect but still good enough to make you over look it's flaws. Overall - I rather enjoyed the whole experience and have recommended it to others.
posted by hoodrich at 6:21 PM on July 25, 2016

I don't know, Hoodrich. I remember I was surprised when Victoria went with them too. But as the movie went on and revealed her existential crisis as a failed artist wunderkind and the extent of her loneliness as a stranger in Berlin, the devil-may-care mindset of hers made more sense to me.
posted by Ashenmote at 5:39 AM on July 26, 2016

Wow I was assuming there were some hidden cuts. One take is a gutsy and kind of unnecessary technical accomplishment but I will give them the room for that..

I didn't have trouble accepting that she went with the idiot dudes. She was reckless and self-destructive and desperate for something to happen. One of the first things we see her do is clumsily try to pick up the bartender, who is having exactly zero of it, and no one else at the club is interested in her either. Not too long after meeting them she is about to "jokingly" jump off a roof. She's a messed up idiot too. OTOH it also feels like there is something more obviously 'wrong' with her character that the camera doesn't see.

There were a couple of flubs

What flubs did you spot?

Re: the end of the movie.. Sonne was wrong, right? Victoria can't just walk away. Fuss was captured, he knew where Victoria worked, so the cops know her name and everything.
posted by nom de poop at 5:31 PM on August 7, 2016

I just now finally watched this. I'm very impressed and I enjoyed it a great deal, but it was also exhausting.

I didn't realize this was a single take until they left the cafe and for awhile I was unsure if I'd just missed a cut. I'm astonished that this was genuinely a single take, although I started to become aware of some of the contrivance necessary that allowed it.

But I also think the film is narratively better for it. Not just the immediacy and realism, but also because it forced the film to have space to breathe -- even with the backstory and those examples of her despairing and reckless state of mind, I think we really needed every second of that to really believe and understand her choices. And Sonne's, too.

Her decision to hang out with those guys sorely taxed my suspension of disbelief, but as mentioned above they gave us the first clue with the bartender and then eventually everything we needed to understand her.

Frankly, I fell desperately in love with Victoria after she played Mephisto and at the actor's performance in embodying that sense of alienated loss she felt. Sonne asks her if being a concert pianist was her dream and she doesn't answer his question because it is a question that cannot be answered as he intended it. Her life was her life. Now it's something else.

And while there's something a bit too pat, maybe clichéd about it, it feels like a tragedy in that whether or not they were right for each other in the long term, in the short term they each represented an opportunity for the other to discover a new, wider world. Something they both badly needed.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:39 PM on August 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Flubs? Spotted a camera man and there was something else to do with one of the guys and his gun but now, for the life of me, I can't remember what it was that caught my attention - guess it's time for a re-watch.
posted by hoodrich at 7:34 PM on September 19, 2016

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