A Movie that Took Me Longer to Watch than it Took to Film


Title: Victoria

Rating: 2 Stars

If you know of this movie, you probably know of its stunt. Not only is the movie set in real time (as in the length of the movie is the elapsed time that the movie plot takes place in), but it was actually done in one long take.

This approach was made most famous recently with Birdman, where through very clever editing, the movie appeared to be one long shot (although some of the scenes were indeed long).

Some years ago, I’d watched Russian Ark, which is truly a one shot film. This movie really was pretty much a stunt. Although it was clearly very intensely staged, prepared, and choreographed, there was virtually no plot. It was essentially a series of set scenes taking place in the Winter Palace in St Petersburg.

This was something different. This was a movie with real characters and a real plot, told in a two hour movie in real time with one camera and one take.

Victoria is a Spaniard living in Germany, clearly a little lost and looking for adventure. In the early hours of the morning after leaving a dance club, she meets up with four Germans. They get to know each, they bond with each other, she falls for one of them, one of the Germans is an ex-con who has to pay a debt to a gangster, which involves them robbing a bank, getting into a shootout, with dire consequences for all involved.

Let me repeat, this entire story is told in one two hour block of time. There are no montages, there is no fade to black, there is no time passing. All of this transpires in one two hour block of time.

The movie is shot with one person holding a camera. The characters go on walks, climb onto rooftops, get in and out of cars, and enter / leave buildings. Granted, it looks like all of the action takes place within maybe 6 blocks or so, but that’s an impressive amount of action that the cameraman has to keep in front of him.

The part I liked best was the actress playing Victoria. A lot of the movie rides on her taking up with a bunch of strangers and within an hour or so be robbing banks with them. She has a great presence and she does do a good job portraying the somewhat desperate carefree attitude of a person coming to grips with never being able to achieve her childhood dreams.

The plot, necessarily, is somewhat implausible. After all, that is a lot to cram into one two hour block.

Also, although I appreciate the ambition of the attempt, in all honesty the necessarily occasionally unsteady / unfocused camera work left me car sick. I actually watched it in two viewings because of that (so yes, my watching of the movie took one more take than the movie actually did).

So, I appreciated the attempt and I did like Victoria. I downgraded it because quite frankly, I probably would have never watched it if it wasn’t for the stunt. The movie itself was at best of average entertainment.


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