And it’s a really hard life, because you have no… you have no life. You have no friends
So two weeks ago I left my full time job and I attended a job interview in Sheffield. The interview finished early because it turns out that the company lied in the job advert and over the phone, and I was no longer interested in the role, but I had a few hours to kill before heading back to Leeds so I looked on my phone and there was the usual mix of big blockbuster films and smaller, albeit relatively well known film…..but the Curzon Cinema was showing a film called “Victoria”.
It had incredible reviews on the Flixster app, and what appealed to me a lot was the relatively unique aspect of it apparently being shot in a single take, and not in a “Birdman” way in which it looks like it’s all one take when it isn’t. I can’t think of a single film, especially not one that’s over 2 hours, that is all done in one take and even just with that it’s an exceptional achievement by all concerned.
…..but is it actually any good?
Victoria (Costa) is enjoying a night out when she decides to go home. On her way out a group of friends approach her and be friendly, she joins them on a walk around the city. The group bonds before Victoria says that she has to leave to go to go home before work in the morning, she is joined in the walk by Sonne (Lau), but she soon realises that if she did go home then it’d be near enough time to go to work straight away, so she takes him to the cafe. The two bond before one of the other members of the group, Boxer (Rogowski), suddenly turns up and demands that Sonne go with him. The two leave with the rest of the group, leaving Victoria alone.
They soon return and Boxer demands that Victoria join the group for a task that she doesn’t know about. They all travel to a meeting with a former protector of Boxer from prison, Andi (Hennicke). He demands that they steal a large sum of money, and they threaten to take Victoria hostage if they refuse. The group are forced to take drugs to increase their awareness.
The group feels compelled to fulfill the demands an set out to rob the bank. Just how crazy can this night get?
“Victoria” is one of the more interesting films that I’ve seen because of the one shot gimmick, although I discovered in my research into the film that it took 3 attempts to do it (I believe it was on IMDB), so technically the pride in the “one take” aspect isn’t necessarily true. I was closely looking throughout the film to notice jumps, or parts in which it is questionable whether it is all one shot, and I couldn’t find a single moment where it wasn’t. It is seamless as far as I can tell and because of this, I have the ultimate respect for all involved.
The conversations feel very natural due to most of the film being improvised. The actors were given the absolute basic description of the scenes and told to go with it, and this causes a very life-like feel to the conversations as there are a few occasions where no-one seems to know what to say, and characters talk over each other. If they weren’t told to make up their own lines then all concerned, especially Costa and Lau (due to their length of time on screen without a gap) is not only impressive, but brilliant.
I felt a genuine affection for the main characters, and I actually found myself really enjoying Laia Costa’s performance and much like her compatriot, Manuela Velasco from the [REC] franchise, she has that “girl next door” quality to her, and she is instantly likable, even if for some strange reason she decides to go out clubbing until the early hours of the morning when she is due in work at 7am.
Despite it being a relatively slow film in terms of pace, I wasn’t bored. Don’t go into “Victoria” expecting a fast-paced thriller because you’ll only end up disappointed. It does feel a little draggy in parts, but nothing that made me bored at any stage, although I did feel compelled to take a break every now and then.
It seems strange typing this but I don’t really have a lot to stay on “Victoria”. It’s good, without every really feeling like it’s going into a second gear. I will be giving it the approved stamp below but it has had virtually no impact on me. I started writing this review immediately after watching it and it’s now four days later. I’ve felt very little motivation to actually watch the film. Granted, I did spend nearly 22 hours of the weekend working at my cinema, but that’s besides the point.
Even though it is very long, it feels like an easy watch and you don’t have to think too hard about it. Don’t get me wrong, there is an big step between a good film becoming a great film, and this film is somewhere in the ether between the two.
And finally, as a bit of a warning, DO NOT WATCH THE OPENING FEW MINUTES IF YOU ARE EPILEPTIC. I have never suffered epilepsy, but the strobe lighting in the opening minutes gave me a big headache.
A very unique idea that was completed relatively well. It’s highly competent and there are few bad words that I can say about it. It does drag a bit, but other than that this is one of my better films I’ve certainly reviewed for the site.
The technique used to film this, i/e all in one take, is something that I’d be keen to see in a mainstream film, and I do actually mean as in a single take, not just edited to look like it’s all one seamless stretch.
“Victoria” is one of the more genuine films that I’ve ever seen, but there is a very big different between a good film and a great film, and despite giving it the approved stamp and being relatively praising of it, this falls closer to the former of the two.