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Film Review: "Victoria"


A young woman (Laia Costa) from Madrid meets up with a charming quartet of men on her way home from a Berlin club. One of the handsome lugs, Sonne (Frederick Lau), takes an obvious liking to her, convincing her to join him and his friends, who promise to introduce her to "the real Berlin." Eventually it's revealed that another member of the group, Boxer (Franz Rogowski), is fresh out of jail. Through a series of mishaps, Victoria agrees to act as driver for the group as they embark on a vague job, which turns out to be robbing a bank in order to deliver money to the gangster who provided protection for Boxer while he was in prison. Things don't go entirely according to plan.

Based on the plot, "Victoria" sounds like a fairly by-the-numbers crime thriller. There's just one catch: the entire movie was filmed as a single take. And there's no "Birdman"-style effects trickery here; every bit of the two-hour, 13-minute running time is part of one continuous shot. It's as hugely impressive to watch as you might imagine, but one can't help but wish the story matched the technical mastery on display. For starters, I didn't particularly believe that Victoria would so quickly allow herself to get wrapped up in the gang's exploits, particularly when it becomes evident how much danger is involved. But the film is still a marvel of cinema -- the logistical planning alone is mind-boggling to think about -- and Laia Costa's performance sells the characters actions even when the script falls short.