Sunday, 6 December 2015

REVIEW - VICTORIA (SEBASTIAN SCHIPPER)


Technically virtuosic narrative movies: evaluated not on the strength of their stories nor on the brilliance of their filmmaking, but on the intersection of the two. How, and to what extent, do the two compliment one another? Does the technique overshadow the narrative? Does it feel redundant, unnecessarily showy in the context of that narrative? And is the development of the narrative hindered by this formal idee fixe? In the case of Sebastian Schipper's Victoria, the answer to those last three questions is a deflating one: yes. So it's Victoria's good luck that there is genuine brilliance in the filmmaking, a display of real high quality work from both cast and crew that makes the film so watchable. It aspires to be more than watchable, though, to be gripping, but this is a romance-heist movie that follows all the typical beats, its stock characters betraying their nature to better fit the progression of the plot. It's terribly predictable, but perversely pleasurable, predominantly due to affecting turns from Laia Costa and Frederick Lau - their individual intensity makes up considerable ground in the screenplay's Romeo and Juliet style assumption that the audience will subscribe to such a passionate connection between two people who've only known each other a few minutes. If these two are the reason Victoria works at all, the reason it exists is to showcase Schipper's stunt - the film is a single, uninterrupted, unedited shot, the kind of directorial device designed to take the viewer out of the action and into a place of objective appreciation. Naturally, it's difficult to sustain both that distance and the intense involvement that Schipper asks of us in also appreciating the details of the plot. He doesn't convince us of any legitimate artistic purpose to his technique, and its self-defeating detachment detracts from the genuinely good work being put in by the actors.