Victoria ★★★★

Shot in real time, filmed in one continuous take & made all the more believable by excellent performances from its cast, Victoria has that foreboding ambience that keeps giving off the vibe that something unfortunate is going to happen any moment now and even though its single-take gimmick is attention grabbing, it's the story & characters that hold this film together.

Victoria covers a couple of hours in the life of its titular character, a young Spanish woman in Berlin who, while leaving a club one early morning, meets four local guys who invite her to hang out with them for a while, to which she agrees. Although her adventurous night out with them ends on an amicable note, a last-minute favour asked by the guys alters her life forever.

Co-written & directed by Sebastian Schipper, the story of Victoria could've been easily told without the filmmakers trying to be ambitious with the camera but that added inventiveness brings an admiration of its own. The first half establishes the background of the characters as they stroll through Berlin streets & roofs but the next half is one nail-bitingly tense thriller that ups the ante considerably.

Its single take lasting 138 minutes might be the combined result of clever editing, seamless switching & careful masking but what impressed me most is that despite it being an impressive technical feat, it never for once overshadows the unfolding drama which remains the centerpiece throughout its runtime. The actors are highly convincing in their given roles, their work gets better as the plot progresses, and it only helps in further uplifting the story.

On an overall scale, Victoria ends on a far better note than where it appeared to be heading during the first act, keeps its main focus on the titular character from beginning to end, and manages to be an emotionally rewarding experience with or without the one-shot gimmick. Devoting as much attention to its story as it invests in seamlessly pulling off its technically challenging production, this German thriller is one of the finest films of this year, and comes thoroughly recommended.

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