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Victoria – Review


Release Date: 11 June 2015 [Germany]
Director: Sebastian Schipper
Writer: Olivia Neergaard-Holm - Sebastian Schipper - Eike Frederik Schulz [Written by]
Cast: Laia Costa - Frederick Lau - Franz Rogowski



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Posted July 16, 2015 by

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Victoria Review:

I am usually not a big fan of eponymous movies. Giving the name of the hero to the movie shows a lack of inspiration, or a deliberate intention to be lazy about the title… But I don’t want to be stubborn, especially when it comes to German movies, where a lot of good surprises came out of nowhere, like ‘Soul Kitchen’ (Fatih Akin), or ‘The Lives of Others’ (Florian Henckel)… And I heard great things about ‘Victoria’, as it was screened in the main competition section of the “65th Berlin International Film Festival” and where it won the Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution for Cinematography… That being said, neither the director (Sebastian Schipper) nor the cast are famous, or at least outside of Germany, which was even more intriguing for me.

Victoria (Laia Costa) is a Spanish waitress living in Berlin for the past couple of month. The film begins in the night-club she spent the night, and which she decides to leave around 4:30 am. Outside of the club, she runs into Sonne (Frederick Lau) and his pals Boxer (Franz Rogowski), Blinker (Burak Yigit) and Fuss (Maximilain Mauff). She doesn’t speak German, they don’t speak Spanish so they decide to talk in English, aside of an occasional German for the boys to talk to each other. They invite her to follow them to a roof party, and the roof party becomes soon enough an exploration of the underground Berlin life, like Victoria could never had expected.

So let’s begin with what’s wrong with this movie. The plot is at best easy to imagine, it’s a typical situation even though it’s hard to think of a regular girl agreeing to follow four boys she doesn’t even know to some place she had never been, and the rest of the story may seem as well implausible. The rhythm of the film is also highly inconstant, especially in the beginning, which may be frightening to who could want a movie to start before its first thirty minutes.

Yet, this film proves us that even a dicey story can provide a true gem for a film. Better yet, a raw gem. And by raw, I mean the word : I realized after a few minutes that the film is actually one giant long take that lasts the entire movie, a single long take of two hours of ten minutes, courtesy of Sturla Brandth Grovlen (the cinematographer, obviously). We are in a real “in real-time” experience for the whole duration of the movie, following this bunch of kids into their adventures. The idea of the long take is a great idea for at least two reasons: for one, it’s an amazing performance, even though we might say that it is used more and more these days, although the late example of a long take that is ‘Birdman’ can’t be compared to ‘Victoria’ because ‘Birdman’ is not a “real-time” experience. For two, the experience “forces” somehow the actors to another kind of performance, which is absolutely mind-blowing. There’s no false note whatsoever in any of their performances, there are no pretenses, like I said, it’s raw, in the good sense of the word. And God does it feel good !!!

The work made on the direction and the cinematography are one thing, but the work made on the music is also very interesting, when you take it on the side of the “real-time” experience. I was expecting something with no music, or only the kind of music that the character are listening during the action: you’re in a night-club so you have to “capture” the music of the night-club during the action, and so on. But no. From time to time, the sound surrounding the action is put aside to leave the place to another kind of sound, another kind of music that gives to the moment some magical aspect, out of time, out of place, stressing the feelings of the characters at that specific moment. And constantly being with Victoria gives more even more empathy, to the point that we “are” with her through these events, we are with her as she loudly breathes through her nose, we are with her as we hear her heart goes racing on and on… It is truly a genuine experience, and I couldn’t recommend you enough to watch this film if you are willing to step out of your “movie comfort zone”. Really.

I would dare hoping that such a performance, in acting as well as in directing and filming, would encourage the next generation of actors and filmmakers to try new things, instead of confining themselves into boring standards, at the risk of ailing in doing so. At least they would have try, god damn it !! Sebastian Schipper did, and the outcome is a superb movie, and I am more than willing to support him in his future projects, that I hope will be numerous and as good as ‘Victoria’.


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Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 15.21.38

Theo Tessa
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