Victoria (2015)

April 1st, 2016
Author: Meredith Taylor

Director: Sebastian Schipper

Cast: Frederick Lau, Laia Costa, Franz Rogowski, Burak Yigit, Max Mauff

138mins | Thriller | Germany

A night out for a Spanish girl in Berlin is a life-changing experience in this self-indulgent ad lib thriller whose unique selling point its shooting, in one single take, by German actor turned director, Sebastian Schipper (Run Lola Run).

Schipper is so focused on his mobile phone experiment that pacing and authenticity falls by the wayside in this woozily kinetic, high octane night ride into danger and then oblivion. It seems our eponymous heroine (Laia Costa) has lost her way and her moral compass in Berlin. The classically-trained pianist is so desperate to meet new friends she is prepared to tolerate any kind of nonsense from the crowd of dodgy guys she meets, who predictably turn out to be wasters at best, criminals at worst. Needing to open her cafe at seven, she is no hurry to prepare to a busy day and loiters around idly, shooting the breeze, until she finds herself in deep water, as part of a heist that endangers her own life.

The star turn here is Frederick Lau as Sonne, a charismatic natural who carries the film through from its dialogue heavy first act through to its dazzlingly dramatic denouement. As Victoria, Laia Costa fizzes with energy and high-spirits, refusing to call time on the one-dimensional guys who constantly push the limits on her good nature. She has a fleeting chemistry with Sonne, but doesn’t have to be there for him through thick and thin, with a gun against her head. Her character is the weakest link in this high-octane thriller that has its moments, but pushes its luck too far. There are just too many plot-holes in Schipper’s narrative. Would such an intelligent woman seriously engage in a robbery with three men she has only just met? Is there no security in Berlin’s banks? ┬áIn the hotel bathroom, after a tense shoot-out, wouldn’t you not need to use the loo or wash the blood of your hands? These are just a few of the endless implausibilities that make this slick and easy-going roadshow much less clever than it thinks it is, in retrospective analysis.

Schipper tightens the tension in the second act, the shaky camera tracking the action against the fuzzy nightscape of Berlin’s trendy Mitte district and making great use of the natural light of a gradual dawn from 4.30am until nearly 7am. Electronic music from Berlin compose Nils Frahm often takes over the dialogue, driving the action forward with its finger firmly on the pulse. Go for the ride but be prepared to suspend your disbelief. MT


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