Nightclubs are bad, bad places. They are dark, far too noisy, overpriced and full of people you wouldn't normally socialise with, even when sober. When wass the last time you had a decent relationship with anyone you met in a nightclub? Exactly. So when Victoria (Laia Costa), a young woman from Madrid, meets four local guys outside a Berlin nightclub in the early hours of the morning and decides to continue partying with them, she doesn't know what she's in for. A whole mess of trouble, that's what.
Much has been made of the fact that Victoria was shot in one continuous take – and deservedly so. The "one-shot wonder" does seem to be the film world's great Holy Grail, and has not been achieved all that often. There are plenty of examples of films made to look as though they were shot in one take – Alfred Hitchcock's 1948 Rope, Gustavo Hernández' La casa muda (Silent House) in 2010 and Alejandro González Iñárritu's Oscar-winning Birdman in 2014 are three – but there are few actual one-shot films in existence. Two of the better-know ones are Mike Figgis' Timecode from 2000, and Alexander Sokurov's 2002 Russian Ark – but now Victoria shoots straight to the head of the class for quality of its execution. The film has 22 locations, a main cast of half a dozen, three sound teams and six assistant directors, and was shot beween the hours of 4.30am and 7am in Berlin, after just two months of rehearsals.
Victoria is technically impressive – shooting a film in one take across multiple locations in a matter of hours is an incredible achievement – but what really matters is that it also stands up as a very fine piece of cinema. Victoria would be a great film even if it was shot the standard way – out of sequence over a matter of days or weeks, and then edited together in post-production. It's a fine drama, with well-structured, interesting characters and a compelling plot. It's a well-crafted drama, with elements of a crime thriller and a touch of romance thrown in – all supposedly based on a 12-page script, with much of the dialogue being improvised during the shoot. Costa, as Victoria, is barely off screen and puts in an amazing performance – you genuinely feel as though you are beside her over the few hours in which the film takes place, going through everything that she goes through. She brings a very emotional depth to the film, which adds a great deal to its impact. But the real hero of this piece has to be cinematographer Sturla Brandth Grøvlen, who managed to pull off this amazing piece of filmmaking with aplomb (and who has rightfully won several awards for doing so). It's a thrilling, kinetic cinematic experience that feels grittily real, and it's something we would love to see more of.
EXTRAS: There's an Audio Commentary with director Sebastian Schipper; Casting Scenes (4:19); Camera Test (10:14); and the Theatrical Trailer (2:00).