Victoria

Victoria ★★★★

Victoria has a plausibility issue. It just isn't. However, if you put that to one side. And it will take some doing. Then this one-take, kinetic, thriller is exciting, frenetic and occasionally brilliant.

Victoria is a 132 minute film in one-take. It is both a technical marvel and a total gimmick. The film lives on its long take; creating tension where there would not be any, creating emotional involvement where there never would be any.

The first hour is Eric Rohmer, or more likely Before Sunrise, switched to Berlin, with Laia Costa and Frederick Lau, taking the young people of different nationalities flirting. Unlike Linklater's work, these two are not precious or precocious, but rather likeable, really normal figures. The film has a real sense of verve, of a normal, but good, night out. It has the lucid quality of a good number of pints.

However, the film spins off into thriller territory in the second hour, losing the immediacy of the characters, but making the one-take style that more impressive. Here is where the plausibility factor is an issue. No-one could possibly buy Laia Costa, who looks the very definition of an Erasmus student, getting into what she gets into. It just doesn't work.

But, Sebastian Schipper does it with such skill, such momentum, that I was willing to go with it. And going with it meant I had a real ball with Victoria. It is tense and shouty, it has moments of great charm, of remarkable euphoria. The scene where the car dies, reminded me of the scene in Psycho where the car will not sink. It is a film that manages to create that level of awkward suspense. You have to hand it to Schipper.

Victoria is a tremendously entertaining film, though wildly over-long. There is a scene that comes full circle in a nightclub, at the ninety minute mark, that should have been the natural stopping point. However, the appeal of the film is the length of the one-take, it is the number of clubs, cars and hotels that they end up in. It is just the sheer amount of time on screen, in one unbroken film sequence.

The film is somewhere between gimmick and genius; I'm just not one hundred percent sure where.

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