Victoria ★★★★½

Victoria turns its one-shot gimmick to a sensational wonder. Running in two hours and fourteen minutes, director Sebastian Schipper doesn’t let you go and keeps you at the edge of your seat following his heroine. A seemingly normal and joyful night for a Spanish young woman turns to be the night that she’ll never ever forget. After an all night of partying and dancing, Victoria meets a group of Berlin men who invites her for some little talk and booze. At this point, the director seems to enjoy playing trust with his audience as we guess the danger lurking behind her. “Is she going to be raped?,” or “is she going to be fine?” Soon after being a steady drama, the film turns into a high-wire thriller as the heroine becomes involved with some business from the Berliners who turns out to be some petty bank robbers. By the end, the film gets totally crazy and exhausting yet Schipper fills his film with unexpected surprises that makes the viewing worth taking and his work worth risking.

The director’s risk of doing the entire narrative in one-shot is tremendous. Kudos to its cinematographer for acquiring the film’s sense of urgency and authenticity without overpowering the core of the narrative. Even if there are points where you question the plausibility of the events, the director makes every damn thing believable and it’s a gift. More so, I admire how the film takes a deep breath behind its chaos which allows some breathing ground for the audiences as well.

Spanish actress Laia Costa renders one of the year’s most unforgettable performances. Costa is fearless as it is raw. Her evolution as a naïve young woman turned smart, messy accomplice is just remarkable considering it happened in just two hours. You may hate her for her stupid decisions, but you still root for her in the end. Her romantic interest played with such bravado and confidence by German actor Frederick Lau marks an indelible turn as well. Overall, Victoria has a lot to say beside its one-shot wonder. It’s pitch-perfect thriller, with great performances that commands you from start to finish.

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