Pity the film editor. Not only is their craft, when done well, largely invisible, some movies celebrate not having them at all. The German drama "Victoria" is the latest entry in the genre of one-take movies.
Pity the film editor. Not only is their craft, when done well, largely invisible, some movies celebrate not having them at all.
The German drama "Victoria" is the latest entry in the genre of one-take movies. Alfred Hitchcock's 1948 release "Rope" essentially appears in one take, thanks to some careful covering of the edit points (cameras at the time could only hold enough film for a 10-minute take). Last year, director Alejandro González Iñárritu joined with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (aka "God") for the similarly constructed "Birdman." "Victoria," on the other hand, reportedly was actually shot in a single take, an impressive feat for a movie over two hours in length.
Even when it's well-executed, the one-take movie can be a distracting stunt. It's up to the filmmakers to make sure it's more than a gimmick. Despite some great moments, I'm not so sure the team behind "Victoria" pulled that off.
Victoria (Laia Costa) is a young woman from Madrid spending a few months in Berlin. We meet her dancing away at a small club. On her way out, she meets a quarter of friendly (read: drunk) Berliners who invite her to hang out.
The evening involves impromptu rooftop parties, late-night café visits and a burgeoning flirtation between Victoria and one of her new friends, Somme (Frederick Lau). Then, improbably, she agrees to be the driver for a later activity, which seems obvious to be criminal.
Your enjoyment of "Victoria" may well hinge on how you can deal with that improbability. These four strangers, while jovial, also seem more than a little menacing. Victoria seems more than a little too trusting.
Director Sebastian Schipper needs this plot point for his last act, a relatively pulse-pounding affair after a languishing movie that has emotional depth but a plot that boils too slow for its own good.
And part of the reason for that slow pacing is the reality of having a cinematographer (Sturla Brandth Grøvlen, who deservedly gets top billing in the end credits) follow around people while they walk from place to place.
The hand-held camera work isn't showy, but it does give a feel that you're along for the ride. There's some great tension at times, but overall pacing is a problem, and the eventual climax isn't as wild as promised.
Coincidentally, advertisements for "Victoria" share a critic's unfortunate comparison of the movie to "Run Lola Run." Now there was a movie that had a lot of editing and, as a result, no problems keeping up the pace."Victoria"
Opens Friday at the Gateway Film Center
2 1/2 stars out of 4