Victoria

Victoria ★★★★½

One take films, whether real or simulated, can go either way for me. I often find it distressingly distracting. I'm constantly trying (and failing to force myself not to) search for its hiccups and their subsequent smoothing. But it can also be immersive and amazing. I believe it all comes down to what the single take plays into—whether it exists purely as a pretentious gimmick or whether it serves something greater. Victoria's single take very much sits in the latter category. It is enormously stressful, perfectly capturing a night tumbling out of control, albeit one much more extreme than average. My heart raced through the entire last act. I felt exhausted by its end. Not only is this an insane technical achievement, moving from location to location, the performances are staggering. Laia Costa's breakdown is a masterpiece. I totally bought that moment as complete and total reality. Victoria not only offers mind-melting camera tricks and wonderful actors under great pressure, I also really liked its themes. In real time, it unpacks all its characters nicely, especially the titular Victoria, making her choices make a certain kind of sense. Her journey rings very true to anyone who has felt lost in their life—so, everyone, I guess? I'd like to say Victoria would be amazing even if not in a single take, but it is impossible to separate it from that single take. Who knows what this would have looked like if broken up into pieces?*

*The director does. There's a "safety" version shot in several long takes. Apparently it's not good.