Sebastian Schipper’s fourth directorial work is a single-shot tour-de-force that follows a Spanish barista through a dance club, the streets of Berlin, a coffee shop, a bank robbery and her destiny.
You say the words “the film is one shot,” and that’s enough to stop most people in their tracks and entice them to see them movie. VICTORIA, however, is much more than that one accomplishment. You can count the number of films that have legitimately pulled off this feat on one hand, and VICTORIA may be the best yet. Sebastian Schipper’s latest film is a technical achievement worthy of the highest praise, elevated by a wonderful performance from lead Laia Costa, who this year became the first Spanish actress to win the Best Actress award at the German equivalent of the Oscars (called the Lolas – which VICTORIA won five of this year, including Best Picture and Director). Costa plays the titular character, a free spirit with an infectious charm. She’s trusting, eager to meet new people, experience new things and is seemingly free of judgment. She’s capable of being both your best friend and an object of desire, and can surprise you at any moment.
The spartan twelve page “script” (more of a loose set of scenarios) is fleshed out with naturalistic improvisation by the stellar cast. Before it ramps up to the abundant third-act action, Schipper gives you ample time bond with Victoria and her new friends. By the time things starts to go south, you truly care what happens to these characters. .
VICTORIA seems destined for cult status, but it really is much larger than that. It’s a collusion of great technical skill and breathtaking emotional performance that make it one of the great discoveries of recent memory. Don’t miss it. (James Shapiro)