A groundbreaking movie: Victoria
One take, one heist and one of the best movies this year
Germany and cinema, what a difficult matter. As much as the topics by German movies are profound, serious and deep, we rarely see innovative content that does not tackle the second world war. Or maybe you do find a relieving easy-going comedy in between, but you might have to be a Til Schweiger fan for it to be enjoyable.
But something like Victoria nobody has ever seen before. Literally. This 140 minute long movie, directed by Sebastian Schipper, was completely filmed in one shot. No single cut was done during the editing, no single break in the action, no single messing-up by the actors. Unlike Birdman, the Academy Awards winner of 2015 that just creates the impression that everything is one shot, Victoria really is. Maybe this is why it got a lot of international attention and in addition won many of the important European awards this year – not only for the camera and its usage, though. Obviously, there has to be more to it. Here’s the general plot (without spoilers):
Victoria, a young girl from Spain, meets a couple of guys in a club in Berlin and decides to spend her night with them exploring Germany’s capital. All of them are drunk, in a good mood and show Victoria their favourite spots of the city. What starts funny and makes you want to join and experience Berlin by night as well, soon develops into a totally unexpected and thrilling heist movie.
The characters, although a bit silly, are lovable and the whole character constellation and environment very authentic. I smiled when I saw the main characters resting in a café that I walk past sometimes and running through streets I know just too well. If you want to get to know Berlin a little bit, definitely pay attention to the first couple of minutes. You may find little gems about the city and its life.
The movie starts off rather slow and the thrilling part is yet to wait for, but ten minutes in I already found it interesting and different. Of course it is not perfect. If you film everything in one shot there is a lot to take into account to and not everything can go flawlessly. During one scene in a lift they edited out the conversation of the characters completely and put music playing over it. It feels a little out of place and you ask yourself whether somebody messed up or something else went wrong. But it is not as disturbing as taking you out of the movie; quite the contrary, it oddly adds to its charm and authenticity. Only the very end is a little too much for me, I would not have minded if it stopped thirty minutes earlier. I am fairly alone with this opinion though, a lot of people especially enjoy the ending because it is very emotional.
Overall, everything works really well together and you can tell that the monthly long rehearsals really paid off. Before they chose the final shot, the whole movie was filmed two more times and it seems as if those tries really helped to develop the intriguing chemistry between the actors. But because they did not have a script longer than 12 pages to work with, they improvised most of the time and the dialogue still is spontaneously enough to make you laugh and cry.
You can tell: I am quite impressed. And if you like cinema of any kind from all over the world and want to see something refreshing and different in between the hollywood-blockbusters: Go watch Victoria. It is far from perfect. But definitely worth checking out and for me one of the best movies this year.