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Victoria

Year: 2015
Production Co: MonkeyBoy
Director: Sebastian Schipper
Writer: Sebastian Schipper/Olivia Neergaard-Holm/Eike Frederik Schulz
Cast: Laia Costa

The story in Victoria is nothing spectacular – a young Spanish girl living in Berlin falls in with some boozy local lads, carouses and drinks with them and gets close enough to them so that when they reveal that they have to stage a robbery she agrees to drive their getaway car.

But technically, Victoria is a pretty amazing achievement in that it's all done in one single shot. In reality there are probably a lot of cuts in the edit hidden in sudden pans or splices, but it all looks seamless as you follow the group in and out of apartment buildings, up and down the tiny staircase of a basement nightclub, onto a nearby roof and bicycling and driving around Berlin, the point of view climbing into the minivan with them.

But is it enough? It unspools in real time, seeming to take place between around three to about seven one morning, so Victoria is long. It's also one of those movies that only contains enough actual plot to fill up about half the running time, using all the rest setting up the burgeoning relationship between her and the boys.

In fact there's almost an hour of character and scene setting before the inciting incident gets the main plot moving as they dance in the club, walk around the streets cheering and showing off, flirting, sitting on a rooftop enjoying the view and smoking and drinking coffee in the café where she has to work in a few hours.

It's also very naturalistic and not the least 'movie-like' or written. It shows all the hallmarks of a movie that had storyboards and vague directions rather than a script, director Sebastian Schipper just telling his actors to keep talking shit like young people on a night of partying would probably do.

All of which makes Victoria feel like a slog. There are long stretches of little happening in between scenes that tell the actual story – and not just action scenes like the apartment courtyard shootout when the cops catch up to them either, I'm talking about scenes that actually propel the plot forward.

It also does the impressive technical setup something of a disservice. You soon forget you're watching a single shot (because it's not the sort of thing you should consciously notice) and you're just left wishing it would all move a bit faster. Maybe if you spend the whole time wondering how they accomplished certain effects and shots (like putting the camera and sound in the car with everybody) you'll be more impressed.

One thing that did surprise and slightly disturb me however me was how readily a young woman on her own in a foreign country who doesn't speak the language leaves a nightclub with four pissed local men without batting an eyelid. She certainly does end up in trouble, just not the kind you think.

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