One night. One shot. One impressive achievement.
Film production is re-establishing itself as the key selling point. Exhibitors are increasingly foregrounding technological innovations to create buzz around their films. In recent years we have seen special effects achieve immense critical and audience acclaim. 2015 saw Sean Baker’s Tangerine front its means of production as being the first feature film to be filmed solely on an iPhone. Victoria (Sebastian Schipper) impresses audiences with its 138 minute run time being filmed in one continuous, beautifully dramatic shot.
Victoria (Laia Costa) a young woman from Madrid seems to be lacking companionship and attention – other than the cameras – until she crosses paths with four local ‘Berliners’. The attraction to one of the men in particular, Sonne (Frederick Lau) sees Victoria’s night slowly, then all at once, fall into a chaos. A madness that she, nor the the audience can easily escape.
The film begins with its weakest scenes. The mere twelve-page script means a lot of the scenes were improvised, with the early scenes feeling very unplanned and leaving the audience feeling as though they are aimlessly wondering the streets of Berlin. The audience is situated in the position of the sober friend tediously trying to get everyone home at the end of a long day.
Yet, when the action is vamped up and the night transpires into a nightmare, the single shot that has been expertly maintained, works to its full effect. The audience is fully invested in the evening themselves and become caught up in the hysteria that is not escapable.
The film captivatingly questions how well you can get to know someone in one night, and how much you are willing to do and risk for them. Sat around a piano in the café where Victoria works, but seems much too at home in, we learn of her childhood aspirations, dreams, her failures and regrets. Then only moments later we follow her as she risks her future to help a man she just met repay a favour to a dangerous and powerful gangster.
The single shot rollercoaster has us securely trapped in. It is a true achievement how so much is achieved in a film shot in real time, with no cuts. Cinematographer Sturia Brandth Grøvlens impressive feat is made even more so when you know the final cut used was only the third attempt. After the credits have rolled you feel exhausted due to the pandemonium just witnessed; taking you a while to adjust to the fact you are no longer in Berlin in the very early hours of the next morning.