IN CONTRAST to a film like Steve Jobs, which takes the life and career of the Apple co-founder and reduces it to three essential days, Victoria leaves everything in.
The film, directed by Sebastian Schipper, unfurls in real time, in a single 138 minute take. But with that, especially in the first half of the film, comes a lot of dead time. We follow Victoria (Laia Costa), a former piano prodigy from Madrid now working and partying in Berlin, during a very eventful night in her life—and, literally, we follow her, every step. That means all the boring stuff that gets cut out of other movies—discursive, meaningless conversations, walks between locations, and even her trying to use the bathroom in a nightclub—remains.
For modern viewers, this adds a level of tension to the experience of watching the film that would otherwise have been absent. We've been trained to expect danger or at least drama around every corner—so when Victoria decides to get drunk with a quartet of charming but sketchy German dudes, the anticipation of something awful happening is thick and ever-present. Schipper eases into the drama, which, due to a random string of events, involves Victoria driving her new buddies as they pull off a bank heist. And once we're in the midst of it, the film doesn't let up until the screen fades to black.
For all its technical marvels, Victoria is still a genre picture, so even while the suspense increases, it brings with it an air of predictability. That doesn't make it any less exciting to watch, especially when you consider all the moving parts that had to be in place for Schipper pull this off. But when so much care was given is choreographing dozens of actors across a series of locations, the same consideration should have been given to the script.