Victoria

After meeting four local guys on a night-out in Berlin, Victoria (Laia Costa) soon finds events spiralling beyond her control.

Most of the praise for Victoria has been, rightfully, directed at its remarkable camerawork. The entire film, that clocks in at 132 minutes, was shot in a single take and moves its small cast to seven different locations including underground clubs, rooftops, and cafes. After three run-throughs, director Sebastian Schipper and cameraman Sturla Brandth hit the jackpot and what an astonishing achievement it is.

This style influences the film’s realism, perhaps most notably at the beginning where the semi-drunk characters stagger around a deserted Berlin in the early hours of the morning; a scene any club-goer will recognise. This is supported by the cast’s wonderfully understated (and improvised) performances that bring the characters to life making us like each of them, even when we’re still trying to figure out their true intentions.

But it is Spanish actress Laia Costa’s extraordinary performance that holds this film together, as piece by piece we learn more about her free-spirited character, who we first meet dancing alone at a nightclub. Her obvious chemistry with the tough yet sensitive Sonne (Frederick Lau) deceptively leads us into the intense second half as the night begins to take a sinister turn.

Every risk the film takes, from its entirely improvised ‘script’ (the actors were each given a twelve-page treatment) to its one-shot take, pays off. Victoria draws you into its dark world and doesn’t let you go until the credits have rolled.

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