Ber­lin fall

Empire (UK) - - REVIEW - nick de sem­lyen

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.

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