Director Sebastian Schipper and cinematographer Sturla Brandth Grøvlen pull off an extraordinary feat in this German crime thriller and Berlin International Film Festival favorite: It’s a dizzying 138-minute single-take miracle. Actress Laia Costa plays Victoria, a young Spanish transplant in Berlin who falls into a dangerous scenario when she befriends four locals at a club. The ambition of the one-take filmmaking stunt alone, as the crew beautifully navigates dozens of intricate lighting, sound and location changes, gives reason to watch. But the improvised dialogue and quickening pace from scene to scene draws you super close to each character, amplifying the immersive experience.
Submitted by Jefferson Beavers. Available on Netflix and Amazon Prime.
French filmmaker Houda Benyamina’s directorial debut Divines is a charming and thrilling unconventional coming of age story. In a dilapidated housing estate on the outskirts of Paris, drugs and religion are king, rebellious teenager Dounia is ready to get rich or die trying. Determined to escape a dead-end life and dysfunctional family, Dounia, along with her quick-witted best-friend, Maimouna, begin working for the local drug-dealer, Rebecca. All the while, Dounia’s chance meet with a dancer tempts her away to a quiet life. The film does follow the lines of a traditional gangster thriller but it is also full of laughter and heart due to the foundational friendship between Dounia and Maimouna. In one scene, the two girls day-dream, pretending to ride in a Ferrari while the camera tracks them with dreamy, sweeping movements. While sweet and humorous, such a scene perfectly sets up those simplistic dreams and ideals to be shattered later on. As the two girls begin to work for Rebecca, they relish their newfound power and spoils but the stakes quickly raise as Rebecca sets her sights on a larger, more dangerous prize.
Submitted by Cassandra Ruby. Available on Netflix.