As I've stated before, Fantastic Fest in general was an experience warranting time for reflection. Out of all the films I was able to screen at Fest, VICTORIA, by far, resonated with me so deeply. At first glance, some may have wondered how it even was able to make the bill. But let me promise you, it was a Fantastic Fest worthy addition through and through. When I was originally flipping through the Fantastic Fest guide, the small sypnosis written by James Shapiro (who acquires movies for Drafthouse Films, so this cat knows movies) really struck me.
An achievement alone in its technical aspects, winning an award for the cinematography, the 136 minute 12 page script was one continuous shot. Yes, you read that correctly. One. Continuous. Gloriously shot sequence.
From the seizure inducing opening club scene, I immediately love the title character. Victoria is kind, lonely, lively, and curious. And almost upon first glimpse, reminds me of Bjork. Laia Costa performs astoundingly well as Victoria, giving a riveting portrayl of a young woman seeking connection. She was so well received in this role, Costa took home to Spain the Best Actress Award in Germany's equivalent to our Oscars. This being the first time ever a Spaniard has done so.
The film is pretty much split between English and German, being very dialogue heavy in the first two acts. But these acts are instrumental in having the viewer get to know all the players and really truly connect with Victoria. She's so desperate to gain friendships and knowledge of her new home in Berlin. Her wish seems to have been granted with a chance encounter with a group of young men being tossed out of the club she was leaving. Sonne, one of the men, strikes up a conversation with the somewhat naive yet extremely likeable Victoria. His pals loudly and drunkenly follow the two chatting. He explains it is his one friend Fuss's birthday as he continues to introduce the other two as Boxer and Blinker. They are all childhood friends who act and care more as if brothers.
She surprisingly agrees to go 'party' with them, and have some birthday brews. I will not lie, I was kind of expecting some nefarious ideas to cross the minds of these four gentlemen. But I was joyfully incorrect in this assumption. They were nothing BUT gentlemen to her and a profound, immediate, and immense connection was ascertained this evening between these five souls. Especially the one felt between Sonne and Victoria.
There are intense emotionally engrossing moments the camera seems to effortlessly capture, following these captivating characters throughout the early morning hours. It is a serious and literal emotional journey with them, and with the onslaught of the third act, we all in attendance are glued to the screen. A massive turn of affairs makes itself present, and almost as soon as we just seemed to share in their most triumphant moment.
Victoria went from knowing no one, having no love, to gaining a family. If that doesn't make you feel all warm and gooey inside like a freshly baked cookie, then I don't know what will melt your heart.
The rollercoaster of this continuous shot left me stunned, consumed with emotion, and in awe. I was so overwhelming touched by what just transpired, the film was immediately filed under 'New Favorites' in my mind. This one was definitely on my 'Must See While At Fest List' and I was ecstatic to be able to obtain one of the most coveted seats while there. There were originally two separate screenings, but that sadly got cut to only one.
I feel as if I can't share much about the final act, I may give too much and take away from what really was a magnificent treat to experience with such subtle yet remarkable insight.
Director Sebastian Schipper really does the job well, crafting a film so utterly moving. Mesmerizing was the lead Costa, spectacular supporting cast and a Cinematographer molded from the movie gods themselves, VICTORIA is most definitely a must see on so many different levels.