By Adam Ray Palmer
Today’s review is actually a joy to write. This Silver Bear-winning feature from last year’s Berlin Film Festival is quietly being shown around the UK but it’s certainly making loud statements.
I caught this delight at the Phoenix cinema in Leicester. As I left the theatre, I felt so pleased that such a great cinema shows these types of films else I would have missed it. The mainstream pictures are not always the way to go as the Phoenix can prove that.
Victoria is a great piece of film to rival the mainstream, perhaps even claim the victory…
A young Spanish woman who has newly moved to Berlin finds her flirtation with a local guy turn potentially deadly as their night out with his friends reveals a dangerous secret.
I can instantly guess at what most of you are thinking. That premise reads like Victoria is just another unoriginal movie that is precariously hinged on a romance, but it certainly isn’t. The question is ‘why would this story be interesting then?’ There are a few reasons!
I want to state the fact that Victoria is filmed in one continuous take early on in this review. The whole run time of 134 minutes flows effortlessly from sequence-to-sequence. It’s impressive filmmaking even if it comes across as a bit gimmicky these days. This film is like Birdman on steroids when it comes to the flowing scenes.
However, that isn’t the most impressive component to this movie. The glue to Victoria for me is the momentum. The film is shot in two acts and the first part is relatively slow. Victoria will probably split opinions because of this as in all honesty, it is a tad monotonous – but that is down to the zero cuts throughout. What the director, Sebastian Schipper, delivers in the first act though is vitally needed. If you had a film at 100 miles per hour with no cuts, you’ll have a headache.
Schipper understands this and instead, takes the audience on a journey. We learn so much about Victoria and her love interest Sonne in such a small amount of time that it sets the final hour up perfectly. For instance, there is a café scene which is beautifully shot and so intimate that you feel a part of it. If Sebastian does not build the viewer up slowly, we would peak too early.
With this in mind, we have a film filled with nervous energy, an anxious audience and a desperate need to see where the film climaxes. In the first 20 minutes, the film depicts the fragility of youth today exposing that there is naïveté in us all – but you still never quite expect the tale that unfolds. I firmly believe this is the genius of the writers and director.
With appreciation to Schipper’s naturalistic technique of letting the drama unravel, this method allows Frederick Lau (Sonne) and Laia Costa (Victoria) to explore their roles in more depth. We see numerous personality shifts to both characters as the script offers the freedom to showcase their talents.
All in all, I am just in awe of this film. It is very much a film of ‘what if’. If Victoria had not crossed paths with Sonne and his unruly mates than the film would not progress in the way that events unfold. However, as it does, the audience are given this raw and authentic picture of, ultimately, a too-trustworthy youth of today.
Cinema-goers are drawn to human emotions and so dramatic pieces like Victoria really hit home. In addition, the added bonus of this film being produced in such a creative way really aids Victoria in becoming a treat that’s not to be missed. The slow build up from Victoria’s initial encounter with Sonne to the rollercoaster ride of the finale really makes your brain work overtime. But let me put it this way; I’d happily, and metaphorically, ‘work’ more hours in a cinema theatre if this is the beauty that comes out of it.
Cineroom’s Rating: 5 Stars
Victoria was shown this past week at the Phoenix cinema in Leicester – certificate 15. Victoria will be available on Blu-Ray and DVD 23rd May.