Everybody loves a good one shot wonder feel to our films. In Kingsman‘s brutal church sequence, we follow a dashing Brit spy as he kills at least 50 mad and violent bigots, the camera never flinching or cutting away. In the upcoming film Creed the camera of the first fight, follows the lead from entering the ring until the victor is crowned, again with no cuts. And 2015’s Oscar winner Birdman was famous for the digital stitching together of several single take scenes to form one film over a few days. The technical brilliance of all these films is obviously to be crowned. But German director Sebastian Schipper is about to outdo them all when Victoria arrives on UK shores.
Victoria is the story of the titular Spanish girl in Berlin, played by newcomer Laia Costa, who gets swept up after leaving a nightclub by four well-meaning German hoodlums who say they’ll show her the real Berlin. Her small decision to walk with them becomes an adventure through the city, but then evolves into a much darker night of crime, as dawn approaches rapidly. Schipper’s direction is intended to emulate the feeling of making short and intense friendships on nights out with random strangers, and the way small choices suddenly evolve and stack up into life-altering consequences – he achieved this by filming the entire two hour and 18 minute runtime in one go. There were three takes, and the final film is the result of the third go at it.
Having spent 2015 being featured at several festivals including the BFI London Film Festival, a limited US release and a steady roll-out across Europe (beginning in Germany) and Latin American countries, there is plenty of buzz about Victoria. The vast majority is positive, praising not just the audacious feat of the single shot, but the fresh take on an old tale about youth and crime. Star Laia Costa has also been highly praised for her star-making, charismatic and very real portrayal of a lonely party girl enjoying her freedom nonetheless.
It shouldn’t be hard for Victoria to appeal to bigger audiences than the standard ‘Foreign Film’ crowd, as for narrative reasons the film is told mainly in English. Victoria doesn’t speak German, and the German boys (led by Frederick Lau’s Sonne, whose initial flirtation with the lead brings the whole group together) don’t speak Spanish. Yet from all the buzz and the very look of it, Victoria is nothing that could ever have happened within the American or British studio system.
Victoria (2015), directed by Sebastian Schipper, is expected to be released in the UK on 1st April 2016 by Curzon Artifical Eye, Certificate 15.