Vesper (2022) poster

Vesper (2022)


Lithuania/France/Belgium. 2022.


Directors/Story – Kristina Buozyte & Bruno Samper, Screenplay – Kristina Buozyte, Brian Clark & Bruno Samper, Producers – Kristina Buozyte, Asta Liukaityte, Alexis Perrin & Daiva Varnaite-Jovaisiene, Photography – Feliksas Abrukauskas, Music – Dan Levy, Visual Effects Supervisors – Yann Blondel & Bastien Brenot, Visual Effects – Excuse My French, Light (Supervisor – Antoine Moulineau), MacGuff (Supervisor – Bruno Sommier), Mathematic Studio (Supervisors – Clement Germain & Thomas Van Maele) & MPC (Supervisors – Boris Kaufmann & Alexandre Rouil), Special Effects – Wulf FX (Supervisors – Eric De Wulf & Rolf Voorsluis), Production Design – Raimondas Dicius & Ramunas Rastaukas. Production Company – Natrix Natrix/Rumble Fish Productions/10.80 Films/Ev.l Prod/OCS/Wallimage (Wallonia)/Voo & Be tv.


Raffiella Chapman (Vesper), Eddie Marsan (Jonas), Rosy McEwen (Camellia), Richard Brake (Darius), Edmund Dehn (Elias)


In the future, the Earth has been environmentally devastated. An oligarchy lives inside self-enclosed citadels. Everyone else is forced to scrabble for survival in the wasteland outside where the only crops available are genetically-modified ones produced by the citadels. Young Vesper lives on her own with her ailing father Darius, the brother of Jonas who leads the nearby settlement. Vesper then sees a drone from the citadel come down. She goes to the crash site where she rescues a girl Camellia and brings her back home to tend. As becomes apparent, Camellia and the man she was flying with were fleeing the citadel. With Camellia, Vesper begins to see hope in unlocking the genetic code for the crops. However, Camellia is also sought by Jonas.

Lithuanian director Kristina Buozyte first emerged with the film The Collectress (2008), along with several short films before that. The work that gained her attention internationally was the dreamscape film Vanishing Waves/Aurora (2012). Co-directing along with Bruno Samper, previously her co-writer on Vanishing Waves, the two next made the K is for Knell segment of ABCs of Death 2 (2014). Their full-length follow-up was Vesper, which was shot in Lithuania in English and took some six years to complete.

Buozyte and Samper’s films come with a strong visual flair, tending to the surreal at times. When it comes to Vesper, they were purportedly inspired by the classic French animated film Fantastic Planet (1973) that is set in a world of bizarre alien flora and fauna. The same sense of casual background strangeness permeates Vesper.

The opening credits tell us of a future Earth that has been environmentally ruined. The film opens on a landscape that looks utterly desolate, but this becomes increasingly fascinating. Raffiella Chapman digs in the mud, while behind her in the background rise giant plant-like structures with roots above the ground. She encounters scavengers dressed in giant black hoods that cover their heads who drag away pieces of metal.

Raffiella Chapman in an environmentally devastated future in Vesper (2022)
Raffiella Chapman in the environmentally devastated future
vesper (Raffiella Chapman) and Camellia (Rosy McEwen) in Vesper (2022)
vesper (Raffiella Chapman) and the mysterious Camellia (Rosy McEwen)

Everywhere there are exotically beautiful and strange coloured bugs and plants that pulsate with their own life. This is none more evident than the tour through the greenhouse filled with plants that are lit up from within and reach up to touch people with glowing tendrils. Or a field of fronds that fire glowing ‘bullets’ at the pursing soldiers. At the crash site, Raffiella encounters Rosy McEwen, who appears to be kept alive after being plugged into a tree via IV tubes.

There are all manner of fascinatingly littered details that hint about a much wider background of the world we are in. Raffiella Chapman goes to make a deal with community leader Eddie Marsan that involves trading some of her blood, which is needed in the citadel for never explained purpose. While leaving, she sees the people of the compound have trapped some kind of mutant creature and one of the kids is forced to slit its throat as it struggles, while being assured that it is not human and doesn’t feel pain, which comes in contrast to its pitiful squeals. Raffiella Chapman is accompanied by a drone that looks like a robotic version of Wilson the beachball from Cast Away (2000) that also appears to be connected to her bedridden father, acting as his voice and eyes.

Beneath this, Buozyte and Samper have strong messages. They tap into the themes of Artificial Intelligence and Androids that has filled a number of films in recent years with a mid-film character reveal that takes the film in interestingly different directions, although this seems very much an organic form of robotics technology. The film reaches a passionate pro-environmentalist message – one that is heavily against GMO foods with the evil, never-seen Dystopia of the citadels standing in for Big Agriculture – and a cautiously hopeful reclamation of people power.

(Nominee for Best Production Design at this site’s Best of 2022 Awards).

Trailer here

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