Victoria

 

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This Berlin tale - already famed for being shot in one continuous take - is a showcase for the talent of its creator Sebastian Schipper.

 

Victoria

 

This bravura piece which runs without strain through all of its 138 minutes begins with a sequence squarely aimed at its prime audience. This opening scene is set in a Berlin club where youngsters are revelling in a disco featuring notably loud music and strobe lighting. One of them, Victoria (Laia Costa), comes from Madrid but, having no German, falls back on English to make herself understood. Emerging from the club around 4.00 a.m. she links up with Sonne (Frederick Lau) and his three fellow-Berliners regardless of the fact that she does not know them.

The film’s director Sebastian Schipper, who is also the co-author here, chooses to follow these youngsters for the next two to three hours, literally so since the camera of Sturla Brandth Grøvlen glides along with them without any editing. Much of the talk may well be improvised and in the first third of the movie the tone remains relatively light (looking at Costa’s Victoria one even thinks of Anna Karina and friends larking around in Godard’s Bande à Part). What Victoria is doing could be dangerous since she is a girl alone with four unknown men, but it might just be fun. This suggests that the ideal audience for Victoria is a young one who will gladly identify with what is happening on the screen because they could imagine being in the same situation themselves.

As the film goes on, it emerges that Sonne is as engaging as Victoria finds him, but we discover too that he is obligated to a gangster who had protected him in jail. It’s that indebtedness which leads to him agreeing to take part in a bank robbery set for 7.00 a.m. that very day. He does not intend to involve Victoria, but that is not how things work out. Consequently Victoria turns into more of a drama, but it never becomes a standard heist film. The impressive acting and the rapport built up between the audience and the two central characters ensure that this is so. On the other hand, these elements never quite result in the potential tragedy inherent in the story being movingly realised. But that is only to say that Victoria is not a masterpiece and viewers drawn to it should find it a memorably beguiling entertainment.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Laia Costa, Frederick Lau, Franz Rogowski, Burak Yigit, Max Mauff. André M. Hennicke.

 

Dir Sebastian Schipper, Pro Sebastian Schipper, Catherine Baikousis, Jan Dressler and others, Story by Sebastian Schipper, Olivia Neergaard-Holm and Eike Frederik-Schulz, Ph Sturla Brandth Grøvlen, Art Dir Ulrich Friedrichs, Ed Neergaard-Holm, Music Nils Frahm, Costumes Stefanie Jauss.

 

A MonkeyBoy production/Deutschfilm/Radical Media/WDR/ARTE-Curzon Film World.
138 mins. Germany. 2015. Rel: 1 April 2016. Cert.
15.