vic copy


There are some cinematic achievements that need to be seen to be believed, moments where the rubber-meets-the road and technical mastery goes to great lengths to elevate a narrative to new heights. They combine exercises in technique and leaps of innovation to achieve great emotional intensity.

VICTORIA is just such an achievement.

VICTORIA is the story of its titular character (Laia Costa), a travelling Spaniard who is having fun on vacation in Berlin when she is approached by an outgoing German lad named Sonne (Frederick Lau). Where at first his intentions are the sort that usually exist between a young man and a young woman, Sonne soon needs “a little more” from Victoria. The plan that morning was for Sonne and his crew to hold-up a bank before it opens. In the run-up to the job, they lose the driver, and Sonne is tasked with convincing Victoria to step-in. She reluctantly does, and soon becomes an accomplice in a daring pre-dawn heist.

The achievement of VICTORIA is that it is shot all in one single take. It took three attempts to complete the finished product, and even the take that ultimately became the movie was nearly messed-up thanks to some spotty driving by our heroine. There are no swipe cuts, no digital trickery. This is one long shot in the vein of RUSSIAN ARK, but hung on to a much more intricate and nuanced story. Sometimes we are wildly aware that the whole thing has been one shot, sometimes we completely get caught-up in the drama and forget.

The flow of it is so natural, and the imagery so organic…how could it all possibly be unfolding without the element of film editing?

When a film like VICTORIA comes along, the temptation is there to label it with its gimmick – in this case “the film shot all in one take”. However, where VICTORIA is concerned, that is just one facet of a very interesting story – one where we consider lives wasted, desperate measures, instant connection, and moments of truth. There is some raw emotion on display in VICTORIA, especially from its lead actress. When all hell breaks loose in the end, Costa taps into something absolutely guttural and naked. It’s like few performances we’ve ever seen on-film before, and seeing her get there from a standing stop is nothing short of remarkable.

If there’s a hitch with the beauty of a film like VICTORIA, its that the single-take device seems to defy the timeline the film establishes.. The heist is scheduled for 6am. Sonne and his buddies first encounter Victoria in a club, coming out into the dark of the night. The energy at the club still seems to be going pretty strong, but for a moment, let’s assume they’re meeting around closing time of a Berlin club which is somewhere around 4am. That gives these characters two whole hours to wander, chat, plan, supply, and carry out their robbery…which doesn’t marry up to the timing of what we see on-screen.

It seems like nitpicking, and I hate to do that about such an audacious film, but the story of VICTORIA would have worked every bit as well with edits…and one of the purposes of edits is to allow unspoken events to pass, and protect the narrative flow. Leaving it out opens the story up to critiques like that.

Still, it’s a minor quibble. The achievement of this film is something that will be hard-pressed to be matched, even with a sharper timeline.