A young Spanish woman who has newly moved to Berlin finds her flirtation with a local guy turn potentially deadly as their night out with his friends reveals a dangerous secret.
The tagline for this film reads: “One City. One Night. One Take.” The city is Berlin. The night starts off just like any other for young Victoria (Laia Costa), who is from Madrid, but is taking several months to work at a cafe in Berlin. She’s been dancing at an underground nightclub, and when she comes topside, she meets a local Berliner named Sonne (Frederick Lau) and his three buddies who seem harmless in their playfulness and free-spirited conversation. She goes along with them because she likes Sonne, and he her. The camera never cuts (the whole movie is done in One Take), and so we follow innocent Victoria as she hangs out with Sonne and his friends. They break into a building before dawn and go to the roof to look out over the city, and then Sonne takes Victoria to the place she works, and she opens up the cafe. She and him get to know each other for a little while, and it’s clear that these two are attracted to each other and if this were another night they might become lovers who would last the test of time. But this is not just any night. This is One Night. THE night. This is the night when Victoria’s life becomes a roller coaster.
Sonne leaves and the camera stays with Victoria. She’s preparing to open the cafe. Minutes later, Sonne and his friends come back. They’ve gotten a call from a gangster one of them owes a favor to. They’ve been ordered to rob a bank at 7am, which is just 20 minutes from now. Their driver (one of the buddies) becomes overwhelmed with nerves and pukes. He can’t be the driver for the robbery. They need a driver. Will Victoria be their driver? Almost without hesitation, she says yes, if only to impress Sonne and to appeal to him. He tells her she doesn’t have to, but she says she’ll do it. Since there’s so little time, they rush her out, giving her the wheel, and they visit the gangster for a quick powwow, and the gangster looks them over, doesn’t know Victoria, but decides there’s too little time to make any other readjustments, and then the heist is on.
Victoria drives the guys to the bank where they rob it at gunpoint, and then she’s an accessory to a major crime. By some miracle, she manages to do her job and get the guys to safety. But what do they do next? They go party at the same club where they met Victoria. They have fun, blow some cash, and then the cops are on to them. They run for their lives, and Victoria is drug along. At this point, the one take gimmick of the movie gets really interesting as the group is separated, killed off, and dwindles down to just Victoria and Sonne. Will they survive the night and will Victoria emerge unscathed? All I’ll tell you is that you’ll be exhausted by the time it’s over.
At 138 minutes, Victoria is a beast of a movie. At times, it’s boring and seems to be going nowhere, and at other times it’s unbearably tense and you just want it to be over. It’s an action film, it’s a thriller, it’s a romance, and it’s a one-take wonder. Other films have done the one-take thing (even Albert Pyun has done it twice with Invasion and The Interrogation of Cheryl Cooper), but few have done it with such commitment as Victoria. Directed by Sebastian Schipper and photographed by Sturla Brandth Grovlen. For more info, visit adoptfilms.com.