Victoria

Director: Sebastian Schipper (2016)

A schnapps swigging clubber is swept up by criminals in this suffocating German thriller.

Laia Costa gives a virtuosa performance as the vivacious Victoria. Her engaging elfin spirit is the damaged flip side of Audrey Tautou’s ingenue in Amelie (2001).

There’s shades of epics such as Arthur Penn’s Bonnie And Clyde (1967) Michael Mann’s Heat (1995) in the story of likeable people doing bad deeds.

Breathtaking artistic and technical ambition surpasses the dexterity of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s faux single shot Oscar winner Birdman (2014).

Deliriously filmed in a single extended shot, the dizzying camerawork of Sturla Brandth Grovlen sweeps us around the clubs, cafes and corner shops of Berlin in real time.

As the characters dance, run and drive beside us, it creates an emotional connection and makes us complicit in their crimes.

The lighting, performances and dialogue are washed in naturalism, offering the impression of organic relationships and behaviour. Masterful use of music and sound mixing are key to the increasingly fraught and menacing atmosphere.

A chance meeting with four dubious local charmers leads Victoria to an impromptu after hours rooftop birthday party. Conversation is conducted in broken English as they steal, fight, smoke, drink and flirt.

Victoria’s evening becomes something wild when a phone call leads to her involvement in an armed raid.

With drugs, guns, blackmail and bloodshed at every turn, the young girl needs all her wits to survive as poor choices lead to increasingly desperate options and jaw clenching tension.

Frederick Lau, Franz Rogowski, Max Mauff and Burak Yigit offer strong support but it’s Costa who steals our heart and the film.

 

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