victoria-2015-Sebastian-Schipper-06Once upon a time there was a German film called Run, Lola, Run that become something of a global sensation for its frenetic pace, its inventive storytelling, and its sheer novelty. Seventeen years later, we have another German film, Victoria, that also deals with a ne’er-do-well in a difficult situation who looks to a woman as the solution to his troubles. What’s more, Victoria boasts its own cinematic gimmicks, as the movie was purportedly filmed in one take and meant to play out in real time. And the writer and director of Victoria, Sebastian Schipper, even appeared in the cast of Run, Lola, Run.

Alas, the similarities stop there. Instead of the breathless 80-minute adrenaline ride Lola provided, Victoria burdens us with 140 minutes of mumblecore, and if there is one thing the movie-going world was not clamoring for, it was a European mumblecore heist flick. And as for the one-shot, real-time set up, Victoria is not so much shown in real time as in real long time. Forty minutes of this movie could end up on the cutting floor and not a moment of it would be missed. The single shot does not nothing more than illustrate how vitally important editing is to pacing.

Perhaps, the film could better handle these shortcomings if there were a decent script to serve as its spine, but the young cast was apparently directed by Sebastian Schipper to improvise, and they are not up to the task. The dialogue is repetitive and without rhythm. Character development is erratic and illogical. Scenes play out with little sense. Victoria fancies itself a look at Berlin after dark, but, in truth, large parts of Berlin are absolutely nondescript, and that includes the area in which much of the film was shot.

From the start, the viewing experience is like meeting up with a group of people who have been drinking all night and are convinced they’re witty and interesting, when in fact, they are anything but. The story is straight forward. Victoria (Laia Costa) is a Spanish immigrant to the German capital, who works in a coffee shop by day and hits the club scene by night. Her path crosses that of four lads out for a go, who can’t even manage to get into a club, but are still able to convince this young woman to come along with them and see the real Berlin.

Victoria only has eyes for Sonne (Frederick Lau), but it’s Boxer (Franz Rogowski) she should be watching as he’s the one just out of jail with an unsettled debt that needs to be paid to a local gangster. The movie briefly comes alive when the neighborhood kingpin, Andi (André Hennicke), comes on screen and explains exactly how Boxer and his buddies will be settling the matter. The heist is as ill conceived as everything else in the film, but there is one delicious complication that adds real suspense. After that, however, it’s a long, long, long, long, long, no seriously – long, really long ride home. And the longer it goes on, the worse it gets, the more preposterous the situation becomes, and the less likable the characters appear. People can’t die quickly enough in this one.

To be fair, your mileage may vary. The cinematographer of Victoria won a Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution at the 2015 Berlinale Film Festival, and the movie garnered a number of extremely positive reviews. The verdict here is that Victoria is not a patch on Run, Loa, Run, and literally, not worth the time it takes to see it.

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