Vesper at Fantasia Festival 2022

Belgium, France, Lithuania | English
2022 | 112 Minutes
Director: Kristina Buozyte, Bruno Samper
Cast: Richard Brake, Raffiella Chapman, Edmund Dehn,
Melanie Gaydos, Eddie Marsan, Rosy McEwen

Times have been rough for the inhabitants of planet earth these last few years – and if Vesper is any indication of what’s to come, things are about to get a whole lot more bleak.

Our worst fears have come to fruition. The earth’s ecosystem has collapsed, and the world has become a writhing, toxic fungal jungle that has choked the life from the planet forcing civilisation into mega cities known as citadels. Outside these domes is a twisted wasteland where life is cheap. In this unforgiving future 13-year-old Vesper has carved a home for herself and her ailing father  when a chance encounter throws a mysterious guest into their lives. Vesper now finds herself in a deadly web as the leering and villainous Jonas  closes in. Vesper must use her cunning and talents in bio-engineering to uncover the mysteries of the citadels and fight back against the dark and cutthroat world closing in.

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Vesper is a deeply thought provoking look into a dark, dreary and depressing dystopian future – the sort that has been projected and systematically ignored for decades, come true. A period where the average person is shunned and left to their devices while the affluent live in comfort. It is a look into classism and the effects of ecological disaster, a world without hope or much of anything – but for the heroine of the story; there is still hope. Dreams. A better tomorrow.

The set pieces and props are gorgeous and beautifully designed. As Stranger Things is an ode to the past, Vesper uses similar aesthetics in an ode to the future – gloriously neon and bizarre. Like a highly mutated kombucha or creatures born of fungi. Strange things that do stranger things. Creepy vegetation that feeds off organic matter more so than sunlight. Photosynthesis be damned. Besides the odd insect, the world in which Vesper takes places offers very little in the way of animal species. Plants. Humans. Cloned people. The closest the film comes to animal life, is a children’s book – and a hilarious scene that would honestly only work at Fantasia! Meow! Those that know, know.

The villain in the film isn’t as obvious as the viewer is lead to believe, as the story unfolds. There are layers of nasty at play, cogs of a wheel so to speak. Things hinted at and seldom revealed, but that just helps to build the lore and curiosity – just what is this citadel we hear so much about.

The cinematography is outstanding. For Vesper, a whole world and ecosystem has been created. Biologically creating everything possible, to replace all the things we know – besides humans. The visuals are stunningly gorgeous – yet highly venomous. There are metaphors in abundance; some subtle, others as subtle as a brick to the chin.

Going into the cinema, I expected a futuristic romp that was high in CGI and special effects, explosions and all the things you might find in a futuristic, Blade Runner inspired piece. None of that was found here. Instead, Vesper gladly uses its environment instead of flying cars and whatnot. Brain instead of brawn, and chose to weave tones of a darkened fairy tale with a bleak outlook of the future. A refreshing take that was more than welcomed.

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Vesper is unique, walking its own grounds at its own pace. It should be viewed as a warning for what is to come less humans change their ways – and humans generally don’t do well with that sort of thing. In fact, my only concern is that the average viewer may go into this expecting something Vesper never delivers. The Michael Bay type treatment, if you catch my drift.

Vesper though, really is a step in the right direction – and a breath of fresh air.