Kristina Buozyte and Bruno Samper have tapped into the strangest science to enact a melancholia-tinged world of low-fi sci-fi and haunting isolation in a desolate place for the first time.
Vesper feels like a dark fairy tale, like something derived from Grimm's Fairy Tales. Part of this charm is due in part to the somber post-apocalyptic landscape that was built amid the forests and fields of Lithuania, while the other is due to its main antagonist (Raffiella Chapman) who appears as the picture-perfect young protagonist from every fairy tale, coming-of-age in an inhospitable and dangerous place.
Vesper is left to fend for herself and her half-dead father, Darius (Richard Brake), who is able to accompany her throughout the day as a hovering drone that contains his consciousness inside. Those who live nearbyincluding her uncle Jonas (Eddie Marsan)are far from outside sources of care and protection.
Vesper is left to live in the ruins while wealthy oligarchs live elsewhere in citadels, but the envy and hatred is palpable from every character that speaks up about them, and whatever conflicts exist between them. When she discovers the crash site of a father-daughter duo traveling from the citadels, circumstances force Vesper to not only work alongside Camellia (Rosy McEwen), but also trust her with her future.
Buozyte is a professional film director with a keen eye for capturing a compelling visual scene. From the shimmering, jellyfish-like plant life to stomach-churning body horror and clever use of light, Vesper never fails to amaze you with its stunning visual beauty. While remaining true to human limitations, the dangers in nature are far less terrifying.
Vesper's narrative is somewhat lacking in areas where I was hoping to find more meaning; its sculptural design is something to marvel at. Earths ecosystem has collapsed and those in power have exploited what remains, and the scenery left behind is a feast for the eyes.
The problem with Vesper is that there are a lot of really interesting concepts that are unfortunately only half explored, even with the intro towards the one-hour mark, which mostly works, but also leaves much to be desired. The strange, bioengineered plants and genetics are a novel concept that could easily be used as an entire feature-length film, especially with Vesper's own impressive research and discoveries.
Chapman is far from one of Vesper's weaknesses. She excels as Vesper, balancing her humanity and heart beautifully with desperate, tragic moments that threaten to tip the scales of her own humanity.
Vesper will be available in theaters and on VOD on September 30.