I’ve always hated the look of a film that goes in a single continuous long take. Even for how much I admire the effort in Russian Ark, it didn’t hide how there were moments I also found myself distanced from the material to which it had intended to present. It made me all the more skeptical before I decided to go ahead and watch Victoria, and quite frankly what snapped back into me was everything I hated about focusing on attempting this feat multiplied by a growing boredom that eventually geared almost towards anger. I know out there, that there are people who are set to admire Victoria on that count but I fall on a radically different end of the spectrum for instead I found myself aggravated the whole way through. One can say what they will about the twelve year aspect of Boyhood but at least I felt something when watching such – in Victoria I was only waiting for a cut and nothing more.
My only guess towards in regards to the story of Victoria, at least from what I picked up from this annoying experience was that Victoria was a Spanish girl who is now in Germany, flirts with one guy only to find strange circumstances happening on the spot in front of her. We get that Victoria is a girl searching for her own self. Yet what I could never find myself getting a grasp on was how everything that comes into Victoria’s life from that moment onward had come to be. The real time format that I’d have assumed would ever be present all because of the film’s aim to capture everything in a single long take only were set to make the whole thing so much worse than it ever could be, for it was already troubling enough buying into the idea that Victoria was moving this quickly over the course of two hours within one night.
It may have been said already, but it bears repeating: just because a certain feat can be achieved does not inherently mean that what you present under said gimmick is automatically good. The fact that everything had been done in a long take is indeed an impressive achievement but at the same time it was also detrimental in the sense what it created was only an experience so aggravating to watch as it went on. As we watch Victoria’s story happen in front of our eyes, it never feels there is any reason for the long take format to even glare at us the way it did. There’s an idea I would imagine it wants to present, two hours can change one’s life even to some of the most drastic of occurrences but at its core, it’s helplessly misguided.
The center of our attention is what happens to Victoria over the course of two hours right after a night clubbing. Who exactly is Victoria and why are we revolving all around her? What about Victoria is even remotely gripping, and why are all of these things happening to her in the course of two hours? If there was anything that glared to me most about Victoria that would come quick enough to have me so annoyed with where everything was going, it would be from how everything flows in such a manner that it only feels made up as it went along. I understand that most of Victoria was improvised, but it’s rather glaring when events as they piece together never seem to weave properly and most of the dialogue either comes at the sound of repeat, all I ever wanted more than anything was for the film to have a moment to quiet down, shut up, and allow me to get taken in. It almost never happened.
Going back to the problem with the singular take gimmick which Victoria employs – I hate having to be a person who shouts it but without said factor it would only make itself out to be just a generic crime drama. With the sheer implausibility of everything that happens, it’s even more ridiculous when the single take approach is there to remind us that everything is happening in real time. It started out fine at first, but then there was a specific point to which I was only thinking that Victoria just allowed itself to become even more ridiculous. It started off fine as in it was never showing anything that would drive my attention towards what I was seeing at first, but quickly enough I was only growing aggravated because it just started rambling without any real sense of direction it came off as desperate.
Victoria is a perfect way to define try-hard storytelling at some of its most aggravating for it has no clear aim or focus, and instead it just rambles onward. Given what else had come along, I was pretty sure that Victoria was a film that was set to go against my own sensibilities on all counts and what I got was nothing less than that. Admirers of the film are sure to come about, but instead I found Victoria to be highly insufferable from first frame to last, all I even wanted was for that long take to cut more than anything. I admire the effort that came into putting Victoria all within one take, but at the same time I hated the way it looked and ultimately, how the good lot of the film meant practically nothing.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via Senator Film.
Directed by Sebastian Schipper
Screenplay by Olivia Neergaard-Holm, Sebastian Schipper, Eike Frederik Schulz
Produced by Jan Dressler, Christiane Dressler, Sebastian Schipper
Starring Laia Costa, Frederick Lau
Release Year: 2015
Running Time: 138 minutes