Sebastian Schipper's stunning single shot Berlin odyssey comes to Blu-ray and DVD
Single-take efforts always act as critic bait: ever since Goodfellas legendary wander up through the back door of the Copacabana, anything accomplished in a solitary tracking shot gets immediate buzz for the sheer logistical difficulty involved. Iñárritu imitated the technique to create the frenetic, unrelenting atmosphere of Birdman and, with Victoria, Sebastian Schipper can now boast of being one of the few directors to have shot his entire feature in a single continuous take, and one of even fewer to have done so to such staggering effect.
The night begins with Laia Costa’s Victoria piling out of a Berlin club around four in the morning only to be swept into the birthday celebrations of four local guys. They surmount the language barrier between them through stilted English and drunken emotion, and the film’s unbroken style perfectly captures the spontaneity of a night out in the city, the waves of euphoria and the sudden bursts of aggression, the heartfelt friendships formed in minutes and the tumbling, expansive sense of the whole world opening up before you in the night.
Around the halfway mark, the film takes a sudden and shocking turn that feels like the drunken imagining you have of how a night might spiral out of control as your taxi takes you safely home to crash out on the couch. For Victoria and her new friends, though, the rabbit hole is real and the film goes hurtling down it with the assurance to make the transition without stuttering, sliding into a new genre entirely with complete confidence.
A film made in such an ambitious way is why director’s commentaries exists and Schipper happily talks the viewer through the intense early morning shoot. As fascinating as the insights into such a gruelling and intricate production process are, the best thing about Victoria is that it doesn’t need them: the film itself is just an excellent piece of cinema.
Released by Curzon/Artificial Eye