Vesper Parent Guide
This original sci-fi movie delivers convincing world-building with a coherent plot and plenty of surprises.
Parent Movie Review
In a desperate attempt to prevent ecological catastrophe, scientists innovated in genetic technology, but some of their experimental viruses and organisms spread through the natural world. The result was total devastation when all animals and edible plants were destroyed, along with most humans. Now a privileged few live in glassed off cities known as citadels while the other survivors scavenge in the wilderness or trade blood for seeds in order to eat.
Vesper (Raffiella Chapman) is one of the few remaining humans. The sole support of her completely paralyzed father (Richard Brake), the brilliant young 13-year-old spends her time breeding new plants and trying to find a way to make seeds fertile. In this she is assisted by a drone which has a neurological connection to her father, and she is thwarted by her vicious Uncle Jonas (Eddie Marsan) who runs the nearby settlement with thuggish efficiency.
When Vesper finds an injured young woman in the woods, she realizes that such a well-dressed person could only come from the nearby citadel. Hoping for help in reaching her dream of conducting research in citadel labs, Vesper brings Camellia (Rosy McEwen) home and nurses her as she recovers. But Camellia has plans and secrets of her own – and so does Uncle Jonas.
There is an entire world of dystopian sci-fi movies out there and they often feel much the same. Not Vesper. This is an original film that manages to carry more than its fair share of surprises. One of the downsides of being a movie critic is that after a while you’ve seen it all – but not here. I was on the edge of my seat for the entire runtime and never knew what was going to happen next. That could be due to the movie’s independent provenance – it’s a European movie (but filmed in English, so no subtitles) produced outside the Hollywood ecosystem.
Credit also goes to the cast and crew for the quality of the production. The acting is excellent and Raffiella Chapman turns in an unforgettable performance as Vesper. Special mention goes to Richard Brake who, as Vesper’s paralyzed father, can only use his eyes as a window to his emotions. The CGI also deserves recognition: the budget was obviously limited but every dollar (or euro) was well spent and there are some truly magical moments in the film. Vesper is a reminder that it doesn’t take hundreds of millions of dollars to tell a good story and tell it well.
There is no MPA rating for the film which falls within the PG-13 range. There are some non-explicit but sexually threatening scenes, but the more prevalent problem is violence. Vesper lives in a brutal, Darwinian society and this movie features plenty of stabbings and the use of firearms. Blood and injuries are visible but are clearly meant to be horrifying.
Vesper is an intriguing film but it’s not a perfect one. There are some contradictions in the otherwise excellent worldbuilding: why, for instance, do people have futuristic biotech products when they live in ramshackle houses and don’t have enough to eat? The Pilgrims (veiled female scavengers) are introduced in the plot but never fully explained. These flaws are forgivable in the face of the movie’s positive messages. This is a movie that celebrates intelligence, perseverance, courage, and loyalty. It’s particularly apt for 2022 – as adverse climate events batter our planet, Vesper is a reminder not to take our fragile, beautiful home for granted.Directed by Kristina Buozyte, Bruno Samper. Starring Raffiella Chapman, Eddie Marsan, Rosy McEwen. Running time: 114 minutes. Theatrical release September 30, 2022. Updated September 30, 2022
Watch the trailer for Vesper
Rating & Content Info
Why is Vesper rated Not Rated? Vesper is rated Not Rated by the MPAA
Violence: A girl talks to a mummified corpse. A human-type creature is pinned to the ground by metal posts that have impaled it and stuck it to the ground. A boy stabs it repeatedly until it dies – the knife wounds are not shown but the stabbing motion is. Plants attach themselves to human bodies and drain blood. A person removes worm-like creatures from under someone’s skin. A person has a seizure. A man touches another man’s blood and then licks it. A man is stabbed to death with no graphic detail. A dead body is seen partly buried in the ground. Three men attack a young girl: she bites one of them. A young girl is branded. An angry person throws rock and dirt at a woman. A person stabs herself in the back. A man threatens to murder a disabled man. A man deliberately causes pain to a woman. A man attacks a young girl. A man sticks a knife through a man’s hand, pinning him to a table. A man is shot. A building is blown up. A man is attacked and killed by plants and then creatures crawl out of his wounds. A girl is knocked unconscious by a kiss from another girl.
Sexual Content: An adult man makes a pass at his teenage niece; she refuses to be one of his “breeders”. There’s a suggestion of an incestuous relationship. A woman kisses a man.
Profanity: There is a single scatological curse in the script.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None
Page last updated September 30, 2022
Vesper Parents' Guide
What leads Vesper to her surprising decision at the end of the film? What motivates her? How have her priorities changed over the course of the film?
What are Jugs? What are the ethical issues involved in creating synthetic, sentient lifeforms designed to serve humans?
Related home video titles:
Biological experiments gone wrong spawn a world of zombies and have the few survivors struggling alone in I Am Legend. A father and daughter work to survive together after a plague that has killed almost all the world’s women in Light of My Life. A plausible story of a pandemic and the attempts to control it is told in Contagion.
Mortal Engines is set in another dystopic future where the privileged live in cities and everyone else struggles to survive on the land. In this case, the cities are mobile and strip the lands they pass over. A young woman out for vengeance against the mayor of New London makes her way onto the city and tries to stop a war. Cities separating the rich and poor are also a plot point in Alita: Battle Angel, the story of a cyborg who battles powerful machines as she tries to find out who she is. For a movie about a dystopic world that isn’t all as it seems, it’s hard to beat The Matrix.
Night Raiders tells a dystopic tale from an indigenous perspective. In this film, people survive in desolate cities and the government forcibly places children in boarding schools.
In an attempt to prevent ecological devastation, a test pilot is sent back in time in Captain Nova with the hopes that she can help governmental leaders make better decision. The catch? When she travels back in time, she turns back into a child.