German director Sebastian Schipper is most famous for having acted a small role in Run Lola Run. His breakout fourth movie, Victoria, is inspired by Lola’s tricks: An infatuated girl sprints through a dangerous Berlin adventure. There’s even a technological twist — the film was shot in single-take in real time. The camera — and, more astonishingly, the actors — never pause as the story chases after them on bikes, up elevators, in vans, and across dance floors. But this beautiful, breakneck spree might be even better than its foremother.
Though Victoria has style to spare, Schipper is most interested in the psychology of peer pressure. The girl (Laia Costa) is a lonely Spaniard on a three-month visa. Stumbling tipsily out of a disco at 5 a.m., she befriends a handsome hoodlum (Frederick Lau) who’s palling around with three other car thieves.
Menace looms over this life-changing night. Yet Victoria doesn’t understand enough German to know how much trouble she’s in, and her dawning awareness is precisely Schipper’s point. She’s in a world where choices — and cinematography — are fluid. So, too, are we all every day; we just don’t have a camera on our heels.
This sparse marvel leaves the audience rattled by how small decisions lead to big consequences. Still, you’re most likely to leave the theater gushing about the cast’s bravura unbroken performances, particularly rising actress Costa, who, in a script constrained by language-barrier chitchat, still communicates the intelligence, discipline, and hunger for connection that will push Victoria and the guys to break every rule before sunrise.
Directed by Sebastian Schipper
Opens October 9, Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and Regal Union Square
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 6, 2015