n 1955, Jules Dassin made Rififi, a film about a heist that is silent for an entire quarter of its runtime. Victoria is, in several ways, its spiritual successor. It’s another low-budget european production that sees a gang attempt a spot of larceny, made with similarly thrilling technical virtuosity. Following a café worker (laia Costa) who gets mixed up with a group of petty criminals late one crazy Berlin night and is drafted in — perfectly happily, as it goes — as their getaway driver, remarkably the entire thing was filmed as one continuous, 138-minute shot. As the camera snakes around dancefloors, settles in the back seat of cars and climbs staircases with the heroine, the tension keeps cranking up and up and up.
Yet audacious though this is, it never feels like a gimmick. In fact, it’s easy to forget you’re experiencing what’s known in the business as a ‘oner’, a testament to DP sturla Brandth Grøvlen’s extraordinary work. It’s a feat acknowledged by director sebastian schipper, who gave him top billing when it came to crew — even above himself. Credit is also due to the unknown cast, who spent time together beforehand, building a rapport. Before the crime plot kicks in, their interplay onscreen is warm and natural; it feels like a hangout movie in the vein of Clerks or Richard linklater’s Before series. The interplay between Victoria and Frederick lau’s sonne as they grow closer is quietly delightful. It’s a good 40 minutes before you learn anything of substance about her history back home in spain, something which surely contravenes several ironclad screenwriting rules, but here only adds to the vérité feel.
The extras on this homeentertainment release are appropriately and enjoyably lo-fi. Besides a camera test and footage from the casting calls, there’s an affable commentary with schipper that was recorded in his kitchen. “I’m going to call some people. Otherwise I’d have to invite too many people over,” he says cheerily, before skyping several of the folks he worked with on the film, catching them up on where in the runtime he’s at and pointing out mistakes. somehow, it’s hard to imagine Ridley scott doing the same.
Top: Nail-biting adventures for laia Costa’s Victoria. Above: For their second date they’d probably just do bowling and Pizza Hut.