As I didn't see the trailer beforehand, I found myself sitting very uneasy in my chair… I never knew what to expect next!
It turned out that a lot of things happened in this one night in Berlin that we follow Spanish girl Victoria around town. Shot in one single take and with unusual camera movements extremely close to the actors, I felt like I had actually been with them on this crazy ride…
Victoria opens with a girl from Madrid dancing euphorically in a club in Berlin. One more hour to go until another Berlin night is coming to an end. Victoria (Laia Costa) makes her way to the exit and grabs her bike to cycle home. But a chance encounter changes that plan: Victoria meets "real Berlin guy" Sonne (Frederick Lau) and his friends Boxer (Franz Rogowski), Blinker (Burak Yigit) and Fuß (Max Mauff).
The boys were refused entry to the club so they hang around outside and chat up Victoria, finally convincing her to hang around with them a bit more that night. She is meant to open up the coffee shop where she works as a barista. Sonne and his friends, however, still have a "thing to do".
Then, they ask Victoria to cover for Fuß, who is too drunk by now. Hungry for life as she is, Victoria doesn't hesitate a second. But as dawn is approaching, she's got herself into big trouble. Suddenly, it's all or nothing… and it's a story about life or death…
Needless to say, Berlin is the perfect setting for this fast-paced thriller. Shot in one single take, the film's locations are all within close proximity around the area of Friedrichstraße in Kreuzberg and Berlin-Mitte.
The coffee shop in which Victoria works, really exists, but it is normally called Bio-Bistro Wilhelm & Médne (Friedrichstraße 230). The office building in Zimmerstraße 54–56 was used as the bank for robbery. Finally, the closing scene was shot at the Westin Grand Hotel (Friedrichstraße 158–164).
Victoria was THE winner at the 2015 German Film Awards [Deutscher Filmpreis or Lolas in short]. Nominated in 7 categories, the film won 6 "Lolas", as the film prize is called in colloquially: Best Lead Actress (Laila Costa), Best Lead Actor (Frederick Lau), Best Director (Sebastian Schipper), Best Camera, Best Music and finally the Golden Lola for Best Feature Film. It can't get any better than that!
Frederick Lau is great as Sonne (by the way meaning "sun" in German). It's kind of cute when he's trying to communicate with Vitoria using his broken school English. This creates a lot of subtle humour and even though Victoria is classified as a thriller, you'll find yourself laughing quite a lot. At least during the first half of the film.
For lead actress Laia Costa, this film has been her first major role outside Spain and I am particularly happy for her to have won the German Film Award. Her performance in the film, especially at the end, was breathtaking. Even more so if you consider that after all this film was shot in one single take and the actors often improvised their dialogue.
My verdict: Just like The Riot Club, it will leave you with an ugly gut feeling. But it this one-take, one-night "real Berlin" drama also delivers spot-on acting performances, which won't let you leave the cinema disappointed!
***** 5 out of 5 stars
Did you see Victoria? What did you think of it? Did the film even inspire you to travel to Berlin? Maybe you've already walked the film locations yourself? Shout it out like Victoria would and leave a comment below!