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quinta-feira, 7 de abril de 2016

Victoria will have you clinging on for dear life - review

Sebastian Schipper's dazzling crime-fuelled love story - shot entirely in a single, continuous take - turns the viewer into an accomplice
Victoria: many films for your buck
Cinema isn’t yet a contest to be decided by tape measure, but it’s hard not to be blindsided by the practical achievement of shooting in one continuous take. Myth has it that the Oscar-winningBirdman did so, but that film wasn’t even pretending to: there are hard cuts in it, and the sleight-of-hand elsewhere, manipulated in post-production, is the kind that shows you every fancy trick up its sleeve.
Instead, take Victoria, a thunderous German thriller, which makes the rare gesture in its closing credits of crediting the cameraman, Sturla Brandth Grøvlen, even before its director, Sebastian Schipper. The reasons are obvious, as soon as you settle in. From the opening moment in a strobe-bedazzled nightclub, to the last image of a nearly empty street at dawn, the film gives us a single 134-minute-long take, roving across some 22 of the German capital’s locations.
It’s entirely free of cuts, digitally concealed or otherwise. Schipper and his crew – we have their word for this – started the camera at 4.40am on April 27, 2014, and ran it without interruption until 6.54am.
In between, we get a euphoric city symphony; a giddy, first-flush love story; a panicky gangland ultimatum; a coke-addled bank heist; a breakneck getaway; a naked dawn rave; a bullet-strewn showdown; a nerve-frying hostage situation; and then some. Victoria is many films for your buck, back to back. The remarkable thing is what a kinetic, genre-hopping rollercoaster it takes us on without the benefit of cinema’s most basic safety net: the ability to yell “cut”, print what you’ve got, and move on.
For an hour or so, it has a stumbly, all-nighter quality, the bleary authenticity and rooftop talk of a poignant urban ballad. Spanish actress Laia Casta plays the heroine, a single girl called Victoria, new to the city, who falls in with a quartet of tough guys from the neighbourhood. One, Sonne (Frederick Lau) is a softie at heart, clearly waiting to make his move. His best friend Boxer (Franz Rogowski), meanwhile, has done hard time for assault. These are people we get to know in a drunken, blissed-out state, before a night to remember turns into one they’d much rather forget.
Right in the middle, the film pulls its most wrenching handbrake turn, and all you can do is cling on for dear life. No one’s thinking straight: stern critics of genre logic will object to some of the more high-wire developments. But the film is about fallibility, and it flails compellingly around with its ensemble, not so much failing to do the right thing as forgetting, in its restlessly hyperactive state, that there even is such a thing.
You become aware of the physical demands on the actors, and the astonishing work they’re putting in. Casta makes Victoria a refreshingly unpredictable heroine who rarely puts her own safety first: despite summoning remarkable ingenuity at points, she’s best seen as something of a basket case, not just a nice girl taken for a ride. And Lau is just wonderful – his ringleader toughness a carapace for a wounded, romantic soul.
victoria
Cast, director and crew went through all of this three times, and chose the third take, after goodness knows how much pre-planning, logistical fine-tuning, location hassles and whatnot. The dialogue was almost wholly improvised, from a 12-page script. And the film doesn’t look cheap, hasty, scratchy or amateurish. It looks like peak Michael Mann.
Perhaps the lasting coup is how quickly you stop handing out mere difficulty marks for technique, and adjust to this exhilaratingly fluid way of telling a story. Grøvlen’s camera commits so completely to being in the moment that it’s something you can’t help but adopt as your own point of view – an accomplice or tagalong, bringing up the rear.

Video-gamers talk of a “first-person shooter”, in which you see what the screen sees, as if lifted directly into a bullet-strewn environment. This is the same thing, except that the experience isn’t just out of your own control – it conjures the amazingly durable illusion of being out of everybody’s.

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