is like Hitchcock’s Rope on MDMA. It
is 4:30 in the morning, but the day is not over yet. There is still plenty of
hedonism to indulge in and crimes to commit. Unfortunately, one Spanish expat
will ill-advisedly become involved with the latter in Sebastian Schipper’s legitimate,
no-cheating one-take feat Victoria (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
an aimless night of clubbing, Victoria intends to get a quick rest and then
report for work at the organic coffee shop around the corner. However, her
plans will be fatefully derailed when she runs into Sonne and his three rowdy
friends, Boxer, Blinker, and Fuss. Despite her better judgement, she drinks
with them, engaging in a minor bit of delinquency. His three amigos are
definitely knuckleheads, but there is a real attraction developing between her
and Sonne. That is why he is so reluctant to ask for her help when the
dead-drunk Fuss is unable to hold up his end of a dodgy bargain—and why she is
willing to agree.
in prison, Boxer enjoyed the protection of the gangster Andi, who has suddenly
called to collect. He has a job for Boxer and the lads—a bank job. He happens
to know of an early opening branch office with a stash of cash in a safety deposit
box. If you think the heist sounds poorly planned, wait till you see the
it was shot in twenty-two centrally situated locations in uninterrupted real
time, Victoria is an absolute marvel
of organization. Yes, they stay within a tight geographic perimeter, but the
cast and crew were still covering a great deal of ground, running up and down
staircases, in and out of buildings, executing chase sequences that bring to
mind Run Lola Run, in which Schipper
had a supporting role (some might also recognize him as the strongest co-lead
of Tykwer’s 3). That is a whole lot
of logistics that all came together perfectly.
the first act set-up takes a surprisingly long time, but it convincingly
establishes Victoria’s budding relationship with Sonne. After the time we spend
with them, we can fully accept her decision to serve as their getaway driver.
Of course, from that point on, the film is off to the races.
Costa and Frederick Lau are terrific as Victoria and Sonne, while Franz Rogowski
and Burak Yigit are all kinds of bad news as Boxer and Blinker, but in a
flamboyantly colorful way. Yet what really defines the film is its evocative
sense of place (slightly sketchy, hipsterish Berlin) and the after-hours vibe.
Schipper perfectly captures that slightly alienating feeling of being awake
when all respectable people are safely asleep.
addition to running his butt off following the action, cinematographer Sturla
Brandth Grøvlen gives everything a properly disorienting haze, reflecting the
influence of the drugs, alcohol, and trance-inducing club music. Arguably, he
also serves as the film’s editor, making editorial decisions on the fly,
through his framing. In fact, some of his choices are remarkably astute.
Although the dialogue is largely improvised,
there is real substance beneath Schipper’s flashy style. Audiences will not
resent investing in his characters. Still, let’s not kid ourselves. The
frenetic one-take style is the reason to see his grittily fatalistic caper and
it is impressive. Highly recommended for heist movie fans and anybody who just
wants to see a filmmaker pull off something cool, Victoria opens this Friday (10/9) in New York, at the Lincoln
Labels: German Cinema, Heist Movies, One-Take Films