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 nigh that we follow Spanish girl Victoria around Berlin. 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.
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.
Victoria 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" and ask the Spanish girl whether she can help them.
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…
One night in Berlin
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 the Berlin districts of Kreuzberg and Mitte.
To trace the film locations yourself, check out my self-guided Victoria Film Locations Walk
The coffee shop in which Victoria works, really exists, but it is normally called Bio-Bistro Wilhelm & Médne (Friedrichstraße 230). An office building in Zimmerstraße 54–56 was used as the bank for the robbery scenes. Finally, the closing scene was shot at the Westin Grand Hotel (Friedrichstraße 158–164).
A thriller with a twist
Victoria was THE winner at the 2015 German Film Awards. Nominated in 7 categories, the film won 6 "Lolas", as the film prize is called 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 of 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, this film will leave you with an ugly gut feeling. But this one-take, one-night "real Berlin" drama also delivers spot-on acting performances, which won't let you leave the cinema disappointed!
**** 4 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!
Planning a film-inspired trip to Berlin?
Check out my self-guided Victoria Film Locations Walk
Have a look at my Berlin travel posts