Review of Vesper (2022)

Moving picture, 114 minutes

Seen in 2023.

The writers do what they can to imply the state of a world beyond the confines of the locale we get to see, which is about a mile around Vesper’s home with only one neighbouring household. Their vision copies old dystopias without adding anything like the inventions of a Paolo Bacigalupi. Vesper herself is a little Nausicaä, an empathetic special teen using forgotten biotechnology to try to save the world from ecological disaster, but she doesn’t get any character development.

The writing effort is hampered mainly by an obviously low budget, where a regular forest in Lithuania stands in for a lifeless apocalyptic landscape. There’s some nice props and VFX, but not enough to tell the story as written. Ignorance of genetic engineering is another major problem. The technology runs on Clarke’s third throughout, but it’s presented like Cronenberg horror; neither choice makes sense. The last major problem is bad directing and editing. Some scenes, including the Animals one and the concluding action sequence that runs on the video-game logic of The Last of Us, are slow and unconvincing.

Among the many consequences of the budget being too low for the writing, the most irritating one is the clean costumes. The interior of Vesper’s house is extensively weathered, she often walks through mud and she never does laundry, but she wears only clean clothes. This may have had something to do with the death of the costumer Florence Scholtes, but some careful ink stains would have helped.

moving picture fiction