Joining a small group of one take films (Russian Ark, Timecode-ish, Birdman-ish and Rope-ish) Victoria is the latest movie to throw its hat in the ring from German director Sebastian Schipper. Does it stand up in this unique series of films? Well pun very much intended, it has one shot, hopefully it does not miss this chance to blow, and opportunities like this come once in a lifetime. Yo.
The plot revolves around a young woman from Madrid whom, very early on like just about probably you to a degree and everyone you know (including the fellow writing this) she seems really lost. Just in her head, not knowing what to do, even if there’s nothing at hand. This is 1 of 2 fantastic lead performances we get in the film, the title character here played by Laia Costa. She stumbles in and out of a few places before meeting our other main characters of the story. Of these 4 characters she meets she grows closest to our other great performance, Sonne, played by Fredrick Lau. It is the believability of Victoria & Sonne’s relationship that is one of the main strong points of the film and you’re in it all the way to the end. Because the movie ends. I didn’t say they die or anything. Alright, forget that last part.
Instantly you see these characters colors as we with Victoria spend the next couple of hours with them. These guys aren’t bad, sure maybe a checkered past, but getting to know them you see the real humans in these people. Eventually, during this groups activities something comes up they have to take care of, and Victoria is roped in with them.
That takes care of the film story wise, but there’s no way I can talk about this without talking about it’s incredible technical capabilities. As mentioned before, this is all done in one take, and this isn’t a little 90 minute movie, this clocks in at just a little under 2 and a half hours. To detail the impressive nature of this without spoiling things, there’s one sequence where, I’ll just say a lot of action is happening. Of course the camera is following our main leads, even when they’re on the ground, there’s then an instant where one of them looks over the ledge and right at that moment in all this high octane action some pretty impressive stuff happens right when the camera comes up to look.
I must also mention the very impressive lighting in this film, which again seems to happen very naturally. If I wanted to knit pick though there are a few things. Such as one scene where the cameraman’s breathing can be heard, and another where a noise is heard from someone but as we then look to them we see they weren’t making any noise. These are just small sound design mistakes and it is possible they can take you out of the movie, but I still maintain that the greatness of everything else in the film outweighs that. Plus if you’re just judging a film on those merits you’re just a dick. I also must admit that sometimes the film did bore me a bit, but with this being a pretty good reflection of an actual night out, I’d say a couple of dull moments are warranted.
Being what the plot of this film is, I can say in this situation (maybe unlike the others) it really makes sense for this film to be one shot. One could possibly say in that sense it is more of a success than last year’s Birdman (although personally I prefer that film). I say it’s more successful because with a camera just as dazed as our characters it puts you right in the action unlike most other films. It can get a bit unsettling, nerve wrecking, nausea inducing, but that’s all part of the great package this film is. This movie is more than a gimmick.