Laia Costa, Frederick Lau, Franz Rogowski, Burak Yigit
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…a near perfect triumph …
Opening in a Berlin club in the wee hours of the morning, a pulsating DJ Koze track emanates from the speakers as blinding strobes fill the screen. As the camera weaves its way through the blurred dancing bodies, it stops only when it reaches its interest: a lone, dancing girl. Once the camera fixes its gaze, it doesn’t let the girl out of its sight for the next 134 minutes, as we race through Berlin during a bank heist and its aftermath, all done impressively in one take and with largely improvised dialogue.
The girl dancing is Victoria (Laia Costa), an exchange student from Madrid, alone in Berlin. As she goes to leave the club not long after, she meets the charming and slightly drunk Sonne (Frederick Lau), and his “boys” – Boxer (Franz Rogowski), Blinker (Burak Yigit), and Fuß (Max Mauff). Victoria’s first act plays out like a romantic drama, building genuine exchanges between Victoria and Sonne. When the drunken Fuß passes out, Sonne asks Victoria to drive them to an underground car park to make a rendezvous. From here, the adrenaline ramps up as Victoria and the boys are coerced into robbing a bank to pay back a gang for Boxer’s protection in prison.
Victoria is a near perfect triumph of pure cinematic joy. It does away with the gimmicks of one-shot films, creating a claustrophobic vacuum that pulls you in and doesn’t let you out, building its pressure until you’re on the brink of an anxiety attack and pleading for a cut or edit, anything for a sweet gulp of relief. While the film is not perfect, dragging a little in the tail, it is nonetheless an audacious piece of filmmaking, thrilling to its final, sombre shot.