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Berlin Film Anthology: VICTORIA

VICTORIA is almost 2 and a half hours long and captures a late night that goes till the early morning hours. We follow the young Spaniard Victoria (Laia Costa) in Berlin. Victoria meets Sonne (Frederick Lau) and his three friends Boxer, Blinker, and Fuß on the street outside a club. The “real” Berliners are a tad thuggish but cute somehow. Victoria, who is new to Berlin and friendless, tags along, drinks one last beer with them, and drags her bike along with theirs through the silent, empty streets. One detour leads to another. Victoria climbs on a rooftop with the guys, plays the piano for Sonne, and becomes smitten with the magical, liberating vibe that makes everything seem possible. When Sonne and his pals need help with a dubious job, Victoria spontaneously agrees to help. It is a fatal decision. The party suddenly transforms into a crime scene and the youths become outlaws. As the gray morning sun rises their lives have forever changed.

VICTORIA is shot in one take with no breaks. The actors improvised the entire film three times until Sebastian Schipper (ABSOLUTE GIGANTEN) was satisfied. The omnipresent yet unobtrusive sound and camerawork are equally as impressive. The film is imperfect and quite often implausible yet it channels a unique flow. Viewers are as trapped as the characters. There are no shortcuts. Like OH BOY!, VICTORIA shows a Berlin that has remained despite gentrification, an economic boom, and higher living costs. It is the Berlin of young drifters and dreamers; the city that lets people stay afloat with almost no money and avoid life’s big questions and status symbols. Schipper’s Berlin, however, is claustrophic with poorer inhabitants and more pressing existential questions. The feeling of freedom that Berlin still offers can only take place on drug-hazed nights. In the end, viewers will stagger into the daylight much like Victoria: battered, a bit hungover, and strangely relieved.