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I don’t normally write film reviews. In fact, this is my first. I found myself compelled to express my thoughts on the artistic gem of a movie that is “Victoria”. It is not a monumental classic, nor is it an epic tale, but it is an artistic gem.
Released in 2015, it is now available on DVD / digital formats. It swept up several German Film Awards. Being a German release, I wasn’t expecting so much of the dialog to be in English. I still had the subtitles on and the fact that Victoria is Spanish and does not understand German adds to the tension in certain scenes.
The film’s opening has the feel of an underwater dream. It subsequently morphs into a love story, then it feels like a bad dream, and by the end of the film, we have experienced a coke-fuelled, surrealist nightmare. Don’t get me wrong. That’s a good thing.
For a single shot film, it keeps your attention. It is a fully immersive experience because of it’s style. The progression from nighttime towards sunrise in real-time throughout the film adds to its delicacy.
As the love story segment develops, there is a beautiful moment when Victoria reveals her stirring ability as a pianist. She completely lets go of herself and gets lost in the waves of sound emanating from the piano in front of her. By now we are coming to realise that Victoria is less of a helpless girl in a foreign country, and more of a confined animal looking to escape her cage. On the surface, it seems as if she is sucked into the spiralling story, but then we realise that she was looking for it all along.
When you think the film has reached an Ocean’s Eleven-style climax, the underwater feel returns. The motley crew seem to have accomplished their goal and escaped without difficulty. They return to the nightclub from the film’s opening scene to celebrate.
This is when most films would end. It would have been a trite ending, but it would have worked (in a Hollywood-uplifting-but-meaningless kind of way).
It is then that their elation gradually unravels into panicked flight.
“We are good people,” shouts Victoria at the mother of a baby they are about to kidnap for use as a decoy to avoid capture by the armed police. In reality, I don’t think Victoria knows what kind of person she is. She is lost. She is Alice down the rabbit hole.
The performances are committed. The emotions feel real. By the end of the film, I felt like I had experienced the whole messy, early morning rampage right by the characters’ side. And that’s because I had.