The Reel Review
Vesper is a brilliant young girl who conducts bio research to improve life for her bedridden father and herself in a bleak, post-apocalyptic future, where ecological ruin and failed genetic engineering has destroyed much of Earth, creating food shortages and deadly, parasitic plants. When Vesper discovers a mysterious refugee from one of the citadels – distant, resource-rich, enclosed cities – her hope for a better life is sparked, in this sci-fi/drama.
Vesper is a wildly creative, fascinating-looking film. Writer/directors Kristina Buožyté and Bruno Samper (Vanishing Waves) incorporate some spectacular CGI and surreal David Cronenberg-like body horror to create their dystopian fantasy world, which looks like a gothic fairy tale.
A convincing Raffiella Chapman (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children) is the spunky, self-reliant Vesper, with Richard Brake (Game of Thrones, Peaky Blinders) as her paralyzed father who can speak only through a drone that accompanies Vesper on her daily hunt for food, and remarkable Nicole Kidman doppelgänger Rosy McEwen (The Alienist) as the refugee. Not only must Vesper determine if this refugee is trustworthy – she must also navigate her villainous uncle (Ray Donovan ‘s Eddie Marsan) and his cult of genetic mutant children.
The dystopian fantasy world of Vesper is a fascinating one, making the film worth seeing, if only for its trippy art exhibition visuals. The story itself, however, is not quite as strong, with some incoherent and puzzling plot points that appear lost in translation. Even so, Vesper packs a couple of nice messages – that our bleak present need not dictate our future, and that even one person can make a difference.
• Most of Vesper was filmed almost entirely outdoors in Vilnius, Lithuania, with only the shots inside Vesper’s house filmed in a studio.
• The drone in the film is actually a combination of CGI when there was dialogue and an actual drone, since its loud noise distracted the cast’s performances.
• Writer/directors Kristina Buožyté and Bruno Samper also collaborated on the 2012 sci-fi/thriller, Vanishing Waves.
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