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By Margaret Chrystall
The main remarkable thing about this film is supposed to be that the whole 138 minutes were captured in one real-time take with no edits – or it would be if it wasn’t a brilliant piece of storytelling too.
Sebastian Schipper the director manages to make this random night on the town as real and natural as it needs to be to set off the growing feelings that build between Victoria (Laia Costa) and the charismatic Sonne (Frederick Lau) as a bit of nightclub banter almost invisibly transforms into real feelings, hijacked by a serious crime and its violent aftermath. But each of the supporting cast also has to work hard to make this cinematic feat fly – and it does. Schipper plays with his audience’s emotions throughout the story which packs into one night a lifetime’s experience and asks tough questions about love, loyalty, trust, right and wrong – and what life is really for.
What happens: Spanish girl Victoria leaves a Berlin nightclub in the early hours at the same time as a group of guys led by the cheeky Sonne - “like the sun”. She plans to bike home for a couple of hours of sleep before returning early to open up the organic café where she works nearby. But she’s reluctant to go home and Sonne and his friends offer to show her their Berlin, starting with their rooftop refuge. But when Sonne walks her to the café and you find out just what’s driven Victoria away from her real life in Madrid, a debt Sonne’s friend Boxer owes to a gangster means Sonne must leave. But Victoria ends up going with them, changing the course of her life forever.
Best quote: Sonne and his friends to Victoria: “We can show you Berlin! … Let us show you our world.”
Who for: Everyone – don’t miss this film which has already won a silver bear for outstanding artistic contribution at the Berlinale film festival plus a best actress award for Costa at the German Lola film awards – one of six the film won there.
Quick review: The miracle with this film is meant to be the how – and you’ll appreciate that a lot as the one real-time take appears to be anything but a restriction of any kind. But the story of Victoria and the relationship we can see building in front of our eyes with Sonne, the courageous way Victoria almost recklessly throws herself into experience and the life and death adventure Schipper puts his cast through will leave you breathless and rung out as the credits roll.