Victoria

i should have seen this coming. this is certainly the film that completely blows my idea of purity-within-long-takes apart, and i suppose that i can thank it for that if anything.

there's a moment about 48 minutes into this film where the titular character sits down and plays a mephisto waltz almost flawlessly and then gives some expository dialogue on her childhood in a music conservatory. this one scene summarizes this film's technical ambitions perfectly. it's like watching a child or teenager play a elongated and extremely complex piano piece but there is no soul or authenticity to it.

i get why everyone is praising this film and i would be there right with them but i'd only be praising the pre-production crew and that would be it. as a junior semester film student, my respect for the amount of planning that has to go into shooting one scene outdoors has grown substantially and i have no doubt that was the case for this film.

however, victoria does not have a script or story worthy of the technical stunt that is being pulled off here because it doesn't service the story, even by the standards of most "realistic" art films. why is this almost 2 1/2 hours long but the actual plot doesn't kick off until midway through? why are the characters improvising a heist to pay off a crimelord who has no issue with the guys he's picked after seeing their unprepared practice of a stick-up in am empty parking lot? why hasn't the protagonist bailed long before any of this happened since she just met these guys the very night this is all happening? and don't even give me an excuse of this being a character drama because that would require actors who can actually improvise more than vapid, partying, fratboy nonsense. it recalls the lesser aspects of the later half of irreversible, in which characters kept repeating lines and shouting over each other in order to fill up time.

but at least irreversible was directed by someone with a good pair of eyes and knack for visceral, primal staging. the first frames of this film alludes to that with strobe lights in a rave and the first few scenes have some effort put into their blocking but the longer this goes on for, the lazier the composition and movement become.

i know a lot of people on this site who foam at the mouth anytime birdman is brought up and that's fine. at least that film got a reaction and had much smoother camera movement with haphazard transitions. here, the camera just moves from location to location, becoming more and more shakier and not actually staying in focus during the more dramatic moments. the end result is something that just ends up feeling completely weightless.