Victoria

Victoria ★★★★

A young Spanish woman working in Berlin takes up with group of 4 local guys who drag her into a robbery, all in the space of a couple of hours.

You may wonder why it would be that she would so readily associate with individuals who are clearly disreputable, one look at them will tell you that's the case, a good rule of thumb is always to steer clear of people who regard track suits as acceptable attire away from a sporting environment. But it's clear that she is lonely.

We meet her first dancing the night away in a club, she's surrounded by people, apparently enjoying herself, but she's actually on her own. We see this as she disengages from the dance floor and makes her way over to the bar, offering to buy the barman a drink, in English because she can't speak the language, desperate to make some kind of connection. But even he turns her down.

As she's leaving the club, needing to get just a few hours sleep before she restarts her underpaid job at a local cafe, she runs into the guys who are trying to get in but as being rebuffed by the bouncers.

One of the guys starts flirting with her, trying to get her to join them, they are a little over friendly, perhaps a bit the worse for wear for drink, but you feel as if she could still ride away from them on her bike and would not be in any danger from them. But instead she stays, we can see that it's a bad idea, but she will grab hold of anything which makes her feel less of an outsider. And obviously it's not going to end well.

The big selling point of the film is of course that it's all shot in a single take. I must confess that I'm a sucker for this sort of thing, you have to marvel at the staying power of both the cast and the crew and their ability to keep it all together. And I have to say they do an damn good job of it, out of sheer necessity the dialogue is naturalistic, perhaps meandering at times, but that's OK, if it wasn't it wouldn't feel real and it needs to when you're providing a 2 and a quarter hour slice of someone's life. You might question why she agrees to help them in their endeavour, but they just about convinced me that she would get herself into something which was clearly a bad business.

Like I said, I love this sort of showy filmmaking, it doesn't have all the intricacies of Russian Ark where you can see all the interweaving which needed to go on, but that film was confined to a single location. Victoria, on the other hand, takes place across multiple locations which makes the production that much more difficult to control, although that's mitigated in some way by setting it in the early hours of the morning. Nevertheless it is an impressive trick to pull off.

I think it's fair to say that the film is too long, but to say that it needs some editing is missing the point, this is a couple of hours in the company of one young woman and the film is not stretching credulity by expecting us believe that these events could happen in this time frame.

Much of your enjoyment will, I suspect, come from whether or not you are taken in by the format, you might thing that it's nothing more than a clever trick, which it is, but it works on a story level as well.