thu 09/07/2020

DVD: Victoria | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Victoria

DVD: Victoria

Failed pianist turns getaway driver in a propulsive, one-take heist thriller

Gamine on the run: Victoria (Laia Costa) flees police marksmen

Watching Victoria on home video is a good idea if you first hide the remote. It’s impossible to pause Sebastian Schipper’s ambitious heist thriller even for a few seconds without ruining its pleasurably disorienting effect: cinematographer Sturla Brandth Grøvlen shot it – digitally, of course – in real time in a single 138-minute take on 22 Berlin locations. It's unsurprising to learn that Schipper acted in Tom Tykwer’s kinetic Run Lola Run (1998) and has written with him.

The story is not a little implausible. Victoria (Laia Costa), a friendless Spanish expat, meets feckless charmer Sonne (Frederick Lau) in a techno club and afterward smokes pot with him and his mates: volatile hardman Boxer (Franz Rogowski), louche Blinker (Burak Yigit), and androgynous Fuss (Max Mauff). Ex-con Boxer owes protection money to a gangster (André M. Hennicke) who has set up a four-man bank job for him. Since Fuss is too drunk to drive the getaway car, Victoria volunteers to take his place. 

Once the foursome drive off with 75,000 euros, the single take makes sense as a technique to propel their flight – which enfolds a euphoric revisit to the club, a gun battle in a residential area, and Victoria and Sonne’s terrifying interaction with a young family that shows the heroine in a disturbing moral light.

Yet it’s the quieter scenes – which could have been shot conventionally – that are the most illuminating. At core, Victoria is a character study of a Gen Y gamine (the mesmerising Costa recalls early 1990s Björk) who’s lost her way. Before the heist, she and Sonne, romantically attracted, branch off so she can open the organic café where she makes four euros an hour. She moves him by playing Liszt’s “Mephisto Waltz” on the piano there and tells him she failed as a conservatory student after 16 years of study. The hole in her heart must explain her recklessness – her eventual reward is damning, and a sign of the times.

The disc extras include casting scenes made with Costa, Lau, Rogowski, and Yigit in a hotel room, as well as a camera test, that reveal how they began improvising their characters; Schipper only ever gave them 12 script pages. It’s fascinating to see that the passive Sonne was originally macho and Blinker a garrulous sleazebag.

The hole in Victoria's heart must explain her recklessness


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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