Director: Sebastian Schipper
Starring: Laia Costa, Frederick Lau
Written by Sarah Buddery
A film with a so-called “gimmick” will always intrigue me, and with Alejandro G. Iñárritu bringing “one take cinema” very much into the mainstream, it is a technique which seems to be increasing in popularity. Hearing about ‘Victoria’, a German film which was entirely filmed in one take, meant it was really high up on my list of films to check out. However, with a very limited cinema release last year, I have only just managed to get around to watching it at home.
The one spoiler I think it is key to know before watching this film, is that it is filmed in one take. Other than that, it is best to go in completely blind, so I will absolutely keep this review spoiler-free. This film is anything but a gimmick, and whilst the fact it was shot in one continuous take is undeniably impressive, it never becomes so prominent that it takes you away from the narrative. ‘Victoria’ is mind-blowingly compelling, and from the pulsating, possibly seizure-inducing nightclub opening, to the somber and subdued closing, you will find yourself completely lost in it right from the off, quickly forgetting this “gimmick”.
Whilst easy to forget, it is absolutely something which needs to be appreciated. This technique creates a startling sense of realism throughout. We spend two and a bit hours with the same characters, the events unfolding in real-time, with real drama, and very real emotion. It is simply astounding to think about how this film was created, and credit has to go to the amazing cast who hold the whole thing together. Laia Costa, who plays the titular character is particularly excellent; playing a young Spanish girl in Berlin, it is very easy for the audience to identify with her sense of isolation when all others around her are speaking a different language. In case you’re put off by the fact this could be considered a “foreign language” film, it is worth noting that it is a mixture of English and German which is spoken throughout.
The amazing crew have to be applauded for this film as well, and it is no mistake that the cameraman is credited before the director. It is so effortlessly made, and where you might think it would look scrappy or amateurish, it instead looks incredibly polished and beautiful. The fact that we’re constantly in the thick of the action never comes at the expense of the framing or composition of the shots, and it takes immense skill to pull this all off in one take.
This film is really special, there’s no denying it. It is an extraordinarily unique piece of filmmaking, and one which will hopefully be revered for years to come for just how well it is able to pull off this technique. I’m not sure it is an experience which I would want to repeat, but it is absolutely one that everyone needs to have – be sure to check this one out.