Take On Me [Review: Victoria]

This German film tells the story of a few hours in the life of a young Spanish woman, Victoria (Laia Costa) , living in Berlin. While out clubbing she befriends a young man Sonne (Frederick Lau) and his dodgy Berliner friends, and is drawn into a robbery that doesn't go entirely to plan.

I'm trying hard to review this film without focussing too much on its most unusual feature. Victoria is a fascinating character - smart, brave, open-minded and generally bigger inside than out. Laia Costa is amazing to watch, and when you take into account how the film was made, this is an extraordinary performance. She appears happy-go-lucky, and in a way she is, but this persona is her escape from a background that turns out to be extremely sad, and by the end of the film you've seen her make some extraordinary choices, and go through an entire lifetime of emotion and experience. Similarly her new German friends appear to be happy car-stealing rascals but they also have a past, and perhaps this is why Victoria and Sonne don't seem too worried by societal rules - perhaps they've grown up thinking society doesn't owe them all that much.

How this film works is OMG THEY MADE IT IN ONE TAKE! OK. That's true, but perhaps it's more significant that it's in real time, which in turn gives it an authentic feel, and it's written and filmed in the early hours of the morning, relying on natural dawn lighting to create a metaphorical journey from darkness into light - a reversal of Sh
akespearean writing where plays were written to incorporate natural evening light fading to darkness - particularly apparent in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Macbeth. This is fitting - there's a little of Romeo and Juliet in this film.

The international nature of the film is also interesting - Victoria and Sonne are Spanish and German and only have limited knowledge of each others' languages - dialogue is partly German and partly English. Watching these two try to express their feelings to each other in broken English is quite touching.

However the one-take thing isn't trivial either. This isn't a music video, it's a feature length movie of over two hours, with a plot that moves between several external and internal locations all over Berlin, some frantic driving, some action scenes including a gun battle, and intense and draining performances from the main characters - and it's all shot on a handheld camera in one take. Seems legit too, there are very few genuine cut points and the momentum seems to continue even at these times, there's also plenty of online material about the making of the film - much of it directed with the director inside the boot of the car.

Victoria is a film worth watching for more than just the one-take spectacle - it's a beautiful, authentic drama about loyalty and friendship between strangers.


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