Victoria

Victoria ★★★★½

It simply must be experienced in its fullness, and preferably on the biggest screen possible, to understand where the hype is coming from.

Victoria is a rare journey through the wee hours of the morning, as we gradually discover that we know Victoria less and less than we initially assumed. She ultimately walks away more mysterious (and emotionally destroyed) than a few hours earlier whilst at one with the dance floor. Obviously, the epic single take is the marketable identifier, but you mostly forget about that as it goes on. Whereas the actors initially seemed to be in a borderline drama school sketch, they eventually accept the naked imperfections of the directorial format and as an ensemble become their characters. I did fear for the sanity of the director late in the film when a green-clad middle-aged man seems to stumble across the film near the hotel entrance and threaten to break the fourth wall, but at this point the film won't be denied. At first, we feel a little like a sober person in drunk conversations and yearn to be drunk with them to maximise the experience, but once the emotion and plot kicks into gear we dispense with all that first act naivety. All has utterly changed, nothing can return to the way it once was, and a woman walks away holding the secret of an unlikely story of escalation.

The plot may be predictable, but I wouldn't exactly call it thin or implausible, just heightened. I think it captures the devil-may-care sensibilities which conquer the wee hours after an evening of hanging one's hair down, and how this informs your choices and leads you to strike instantly close (and often temporal) bonds with absolute randoms. Some of our biggest thrills and regrets, our greatest loves and our most terrible tragedies, occur in such circumstances, and Victoria for me captured that vigorously molten aspect of ourselves in epic form.

These aren't wee small hours, they are colossal. So colossal in fact, especially when considering the white-knuckle tension and exhaustion of hanging on the tenterhooks of such a close-up dominated endless take, that I have no real desire to see this again any time soon. It's a once-a-decade (if not once-a-life) watch that makes you rethink the very utility of a take, and makes a stellar addition to the club of night odyssey flicks. Regardless of the destination, Victoria gives weight to the journey.

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