It’s early in the morning in Berlin, and a 23-year-old woman from Madrid named Victoria is dancing to her heart’s content all alone in a nightclub. As she’s leaving, the young woman meets some charming, roguish local guys, who invite her to venture out into the city streets looking for fun. Impulsively, she decides to go for it — and over the next two hours of gunfire, coke binges, high-speed pursuits and one major predawn bank heist, Victoria will get way more than she bargained for. And the “fun” never stops, literally: Everything unfolds both in real time and — wait for it — one single, unbroken 138-minute shot.
A combination of a Before Sunrise-syle love story, a pomo-pulp crime picture, and a we-are-young manifesto, Victoria is one exhilarating rush of a movie, an experiment in how far you can push one-take formalism before things fall apart. (The film was shot in three long takes over two weeks; the third try was the one used for the final movie.) Ask the man behind this bold, award-winning experiment, 47-year-old German actor-turned-director Sebastian Schipper, for an analogy of what it was like to conceive of and shoot this thriller, however, and the normally chatty filmmaker is at a loss for words.
“The key reference point in making Victoria was music,” he finally explains, hanging out in his publicist’s Los Angeles offices alongside Victoria herself, the movie’s 30-year-old star Laia Costa. In slightly broken English, he continues: “This is my fourth film, but if I was a musician, this is the first album that sounds like me, for better or worse — not me imitating Thom Yorke or some other singer-songwriter superhero that I would love to be. There’s a lot of punk rock in this project — we dropped out of school and went into a garage and started rocking.”
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