Does anybody say ‘the pictures’ anymore?
Well, that’s where I went on Tuesday; at the Stoke Film Theatre on the College Road campus for the independent German film, Victoria. This is not the sort of film you get down the local Odeon. Some of the film is in German with English sub-titles and some in English. But the film’s most notable characteristic is that it is one continuous 180 minute take, shot with a hand-held camera. This achieves many effects. It is extraordinarily intimate: the audience does not so much watch the action, as feel like they are part of it. Because it is one take, the film is also in real time, taking us from the depths of Berlin’s underground club scene to the grey urban dawn. The result is that, from when they meet for the first time at the beginning of the film, the actors have to reveal their characters and persuade the audience of their growing bond. Victoria is a Spanish pianist working in a Berlin coffee shop, and the group of men who take her on a roller-coaster tour of night time Berlin are marginalised petty criminals. Victoria’s experiences of unfriendly competition in the conservatoire makes her susceptible to the picaresque appeal of the group of men who are known only by their nicknames; Sonne, Boxer, Blinker and Fuss. Victoria herself is a beguiling mix of curiosity and vulnerability. The intensity of the camera gaze is at its most effective in claustrophobic spaces, and we quickly become entranced by the edgy relationships building between the characters as their personalities are revealed to each other and the audience.
The Guardian, like me, loved this film, giving it 5 stars. You can read the review here, and see the trailer here.
The Film Theatre is an authentic cinema experience. You are not cocooned in king size seats here, isolated from the rest of the audience. There’s also a nice little bar where you can get a local Titanic brewery beer, a cup of coffee or some sweets for the film. Enjoy.