German director Sebastian Schipper’s new feature might hinge on a production stunt, but one so impressive that it demands to be seen. It’s a 2.5 hour single-take heist movie. The cameraman gets the first credit when the movie wraps up and deservedly so. This is a damn impressive technical accomplishment. Aside from the single take gimmick Victoria is a decent little heist movie, but this is certainly a case where technique trumps content.
Laia Costa stars as a young Spanish woman in Berlin who meets a collection of rowdy boys at a nightclub and follows them out to see where the night takes them. At first it’s just public drinking and other silly behaviour, but a spark forms between her and Sonne (played by Frederick Lau), so she sticks with them longer than she should. Eventually the boys are forced into a heist and so is she. It goes about as well as you’d expect an impromptu heist executed by kids who don’t know any better would.
Beyond the single take showmanship, Schipper and his cast deliver an intriguing little narrative that fluctuates in tone nicely. It starts as an almost Linklater-ian conversation piece before diving into headfirst into genre. The characters are well drawn and performed, so the potential for believability to be stretched beyond breaking point never becomes a needless distraction. The way the heist is handled through carefully choreographed on and off-screen action delivers an impressive sense of scale and the single take style transitions from documentary realism to heightened suspense-building wonderfully. Sure, this is ultimately a decent B-movie elevated by a remarkable production model, but it works so well that you likely won’t even notice until you’re long out of the theater.