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December 18, 2016

Victoria (2016)
Director: Sebastian Schipper
Actors: Laia Costa, Frederick Lau, Franz Rogowski

victoria-dark-footer-banner-250-300x125.jpg (300×125)

Synopsis: Victoria (Laia Costa) – a Spanish girl living in Berlin – has her world turned upside down when she decides to befriend a group of seemingly idle stragglers outside a nightclub in the early hours of the morning…

Review: Imagine shooting a 138-minute feature film in a (to all intents and purposes) single take, and for that film to go on to be something almost contradictory to that technique: dramatically inert, bogus and ever-so-slightly boring. That is the strange ‘achievement’ of Victoria – a film best described as a concept and a gimmick desperately in search of a narrative and some ideas.

What director Sebastian Schipper gets entirely wrong is to assume an automatic profundity and import by simply co-opting the technique of a single-take. He fails to realise that a single-take in itself denotes nothing, and that for it to work – or at least have a warranted and propulsive effect (à la Russian Ark or Irréversible) – the technique needs to be wedded to the ethical concerns of the piece (a commentary on history or the irreversibility of time). Victoria is little more than a hackneyed genre piece, and Schipper shows he can’t even manage the logic of his single-take dictum properly by essentially ‘cheating’ through shifting into non-diegetic mode (a sentimental music score, the redundant addition of Victoria’s virtuoso piano playing) at regular intervals which betrays his inability to stick to the immersive rigour he himself had imposed.

What Victoria demonstrates is that just because technology will make seemingly difficult filmmaking ‘feats’ like this more and more tenable, it still needs directors and screenwriters of the appropriate intelligence and understanding of their medium to do them full justice. (December 2016)

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