By Darin Skaggs
The big gimmick in Sabastian Schipper’s Victoria is that it is an over two hour film that is all done in one take. This is a huge accomplishment on a technical level and should always be seen as such, but that does not mean anything about the quality of the film. This “gimmick” could turn people off right away and might seem pretentious and others will at least find it compelling as an artistic choice. I find myself leaning towards the latter. Fortunately, all the hard work done with the actors, director and crew pays off and comes together to make an exhilarating and emotionally dense film that has come out in a great while.
The film opens with the titular Victoria (played brilliantly by Laia Costa) who is dancing away whatever stress was brought on that day. As she leaves the club she runs into a group of men who are breaking into a car. Even though these guys are clearly troublemakers, the movie lets you trust them and lets Victoria trust them as well. They have a certain immature charm to them, the fact that they laugh when they run from the car’s alarm and are riding around on a bike that might not be theirs. Most of the trust is earned by the charm and almost crush like nervousness that comes from the undeclared leader of the group Sonne (a great performance by Frederick Lau). The two bond while they steal from a sleeping mini-mart attendant, talk about life while playing piano and going on the top of a roof just to hang out. She trusts Sonne, so she then trust his friends as well, even when one goes off on how he went to jail for his violent past. She spends the night trying to go home so she can get some rest before her early morning shift at a coffee shop. She is having too much fun though, like a night you don’t want to end, she doesn’t leave for a while. She reluctantly does and watches her new friends leave to commit some more hooligan antics. She thinks the night is over until they come back in, one of them throwing up. Sonne has to ask for help, he clearly does not want to, but he does. She comes along with her new friends not knowing it will lead to an intense and dangerous night.
A part of me envies the people who go into the film not knowing that this is all one take. The story does not need to be made the way it was, it could clearly just be a regular story of a girl who meets some people and then gets caught up in some dangerous activity. It could have had some edits, it could have been cut down, but it wasn’t. They made a film that was all one take. Was this all to grab your attention so you would come see it? Was it all just a pretentious choice? That might be some of it, but it also works as a film about how much your life can change with only a few and seemingly innocent choices. If it was all just to get people in seats or brag how committed Schipper and crew were to creating their work of art at least it was done with some passion. It is clearly dedication on the part of the crew and actors. There is probably some giant map somewhere with all the locations and arrows pointing to where to go, but what really makes this movie as great as it is, is the emotion that comes with it. When Victoria and Sonne go and break off from the group you can see Sonne give a little joyful smirk when Victoria is not looking like someone who has a crush and has finally been acknowledged. It is all these little moments that make it emotionally beautiful.