Film Review: 'Victoria' - A Study in One-Take Realism

Victoria Still 12

Courtesy of Adopt Films.

There are many factors that make Victoria a unique film worthy of praise for the sheer amount of planning and organization involved in its creation. From director Sebastian Schipper, the film is shot by Sturla Brandth Grøvlen in one continuous take, so fans of Birdman can rejoice as this style of filmmaking seems to be, rather like Michael Keaton’s character, taking off.

Set in Berlin, Victoria follows a Spanish girl of the same name, who is on her own in the city, enjoying a night out. When she meets Sonne and his friends outside one of Berlin’s 24-hour nightclubs, the excitement she’s so obviously been searching for comes right to her doorstep.

At first, the group, who promise to show Victoria the “real Berlin,” bonds and her and Sonne’s fledgling romance begins to flourish, but soon it becomes clear the boys are mixed up in something much more serious than shouting off rooftops and breakdancing in the street. How far will Victoria go in search of adventure? This question is an important one, as we watch her become more and more involved with events.

Victoria Still 9

Courtesy of Adopt Films.

The single shot style of Victoria allows us to watch the night unfold in real time. The camera keeps up when the characters are cycling, it follows them down stairs, into cars and most impressively excitingly portrays the action-packed scenes.

There are times, for example when the characters go up in an elevator, when the audience must wait patiently for the next scene to be played out. But after all, this is life, and Victoria is a dramatic, well-executed depiction, keeping expectations realistic.

Victoria Still 4

Courtesy of Adopt Films.

The acting in this film is top notch, and it had to be so given its single take circumstances. The script that the actors worked with was a short one, only 12 pages long, so much of the dialogue is improvised, as well as jumping between subtitled German and English with ease. This gives the feeling that we’re simply watching a group of friends talking to each other, rather than performing rehearsed lines and scenes.

Realistic in many moments, Victoria isn’t immune to the drama that many audiences expect in a film these days. There is conflict and raging emotion in spades, once the scene has been set during the first half of the film. At its heart, this is an impressive study in the way events unfold, sometimes spiraling uncontrollably towards their epic conclusions.