We watch the starlight of actors and actresses ebb and flow from awards ceremony to social media controversy. In this celebrity obsessed culture, is acting under appreciated, or overrated?
I have always tended towards the latter. While a successful actor brings cachet to a filmset, I believe the true value comes from the writers, directors, set designers and cinematographers who build the world, envision the scenes and press record.
That was until I saw Victoria.
You might remember Victoria as the semi-foreign film shot on a cloudless Berlin night in one, single take. The 2 hours of unbroken film follows a Spanish student as she is seduced into robbing a bank. But it’s not the one take that makes this film special. It’s the limitations a single take places on those behind the camera and more importantly, those in front of it. It removes the barriers that come between us and the people on screen, and lays bare the craft of acting.
As our Berliners barrel from tipsy playfulness to paralysing fear, from delirious ecstasy to devastating grief, we cannot help but mirror their realtime emotions. Their fictional anxiety is heightened by the real anxiety that comes with 140 non-stop minutes of film, where a misplaced foot, slurred word or unexpected sneeze could spoil the production. It’s the first time I’ve seen an actor feel genuinely vulnerable on screen, and yet their characters are portrayed with such confidence and effortlessness that the line is blurred between what is real and what is not. The events taking place are certainly fictional, but the connection that builds between the small group of friends in moments of crisis feels real. Real enough to cut through the cynicism that shrouds most films.
Victoria demonstrates acting is more than a grownup version of make-believe. Acting, the art form, is a study in effortless self control. It’s the ability to drown in a story and yet remain unfazed, even as its cool tendrils snake down the throat and into the heart.