There have been so many gimmicks in the history of film, vibrating seats, mist-machines, and 3-D. Then there are the ones that seem like a gimmick but stick, like sound, color, and IMAX. Now as we are in the age where most cellphones can be used to shoot a film, the temptation is there to see how far you can use that technology to further the art of filmmaking. The winner of the Best Picture in 2014 was a film made to appear as if it was all a single continuous shot, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” had the camera follow Michael Keaton and the rest of the cast as they try to create, interact, and live in the world of the theater. Only a dozen films have actually attempted shooting an entire film in one shot. “Victoria” has accomplished this feat with that indie/foreign film sensibility in a way that leaves you completely in awe by the 1 hour and a half mark, then there is still another 50 intense minutes following that.
Victoria (Laia Costa) has recently moved from her home in Spain to Berlin. After a night of clubbing she meets four local men who invite her to hang out with them as they celebrate one of the four’s birthday. Not knowing the language but wanting to meet new people she goes along as they wander the streets, shoplifting beer, and sneak onto rooftops. As the very early morning turns to early morning, she is escorted to the cafe where she works to begin to get ready to open. After a moment of connection with one of the men Sonne (Frederick Lau), Victoria gets pulled into a situation the men have been involved in before the night began. This leads to a roller-coaster of events throughout the city as the intensity builds, Victoria wonders if she will survive the experience.
Usually when you see a movies magic trick, it has a tendency to pull you right out of the film. Here when you remind yourself that this is all one take, it only furthers your appreciation for what director Sebastian Shcipper and his entire cast were able to accomplish. By the last 30 minutes my mind was blown by what I was seeing, and while it’s not perfect, it’s far exceeds what I believe anyone has ever accomplished to this point. The film does drag a bit at times, though the pauses never last long. And while sometimes it’s hard to buy that Victoria would get pulled in so deep in such short amount of time, they set up enough that she is desperate for a sense of belonging. Even if that means getting involved in something illegal. The film as a whole has a familiar feel to it, like a indie movie with a cool concept from the 90’s like “Run Lola Run” which interestingly enough is a film that director Schipper actually starred in.
The planning and sheer endurance that was involved in the making of this film is staggering especially when dealing with public streets and neighborhoods, unbeknownst extras, and believe it or not an infant. I really love this film, both in its simplicity and its boldness. When I remember that I’ve seen thousands of movies over the years, it’s an amazing feeling to know that an unknown film can come along and knock me out in the best way possible. It’s actually enough to make me look forward to the thousands more to come if they lead to another masterpiece like “Victoria”.