VICTORIA, crime drama, not rated, in German, English, and Spanish with subtitles, Center for Contemporary Arts and Violet Crown, 3.5 chiles
Victoria (Laia Costa) is a young woman from Madrid who’s living in Berlin. On the night this movie takes place, she has gone dancing. After a final gulp of schnapps, she decides to head home because she has to work in the morning and it’s nearing 4 a.m. But as she is leaving, she meets four young men who flirt with her in a friendly way after they are denied entry to the club. They are hometown boys, dressed down and drunk. They invite her to see the “real” Berlin with them, and she accepts, abandoning her bicycle for a ride in their car. To American audiences, this probably looks like the decision of a woman with a wild streak or a death wish, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Victoria is good-natured and so are the boys, and she takes a liking to Sonne (Frederick Lau), the sweet-faced, track-pants-wearing charmer of the group.
It might not be immediately apparent to the untrained eye that Victoria was filmed in one long, unbroken shot. Given the way the plot develops, this cinematic technique has more in common with the famous unbroken opening of Orson Welles’ noir classic Touch of Evil (1958) than it does with the dreamlike Russian Ark (2002), in which the camera and narrator share a point of view as they time-travel through a living museum. The salient feature of the unbroken shot here is that Victoria takes place in real time, and in that time — about two and a quarter hours — Victoria and her new friends go from drinking buddies to criminal conspirators on the run for their lives. How quickly this happens is an essential feature of their meeting, one of those rare and random magical nights out in which two people are swept up by mutual romantic infatuation. A sense of loyalty and a willingness to take risks blossom out of proportion to reality.
The acting is excellent and feels natural, which must have taken plenty of rehearsal, akin to a stage play in which the actors must remain in character for the duration. As we get to know Sonne, Boxer (Franz Rogowski), Blinker (Burak Yigit), and Fuß (Max Mauff), we begin to see them as Victoria does: funny, a little dangerous, and definitely worth staying up for. When she decides at one point to leave them so she can rest before work, Sonne goes with her to a café, and we learn something of her past and her disappointments. In turn, we see her as Sonne sees her: a mystery he wants to unravel and appreciate. They must live out their romance too quickly, however, as the consequences of a terrible bargain, made in another time by someone else, determine their fate.
Thrill-seeking: Laia Costa