IF YOU NEEDED to improve your life, would you leave in search of a better one? Or would you try to make the life you already have better? That dilemma drives Vesper, the beautiful biopunk film from writer-directors Kristina Buožytė and Bruno Samper. The film begins by introducing us to the character of Vesper, a young teen that survives in this hostile post-apocalyptic world. The film does a lot of world-building, and it does it in very subtle ways, without ever stopping the story for too long in order to explain things. For example, this is a world where the

elite live in domed cities called citadels. There they are able to basically create any life form, thus solving scarcity. For the people outside the citadel, it is a different story. The people outside must find food and resources on their own. The citadel gives them seeds that can only be one type of crop. The rest of the seeds are locked behind a special process that only the scientists of the citadels know about. Without this process, the seeds are infertile. There are also beings called Jugs, artificial humans made with the sole purpose of being a slave-work force.

The future looks pretty grim in Vesper, but it isn’t so far from our present that we cannot recognize it. Vesper lives with his father, a wounded worker, who now can only

communicate by using a drone. He uses the drone to accompany Vesper in her daily routine, while his real body stays in bed. Vesper’s uncle, Jonas, lives not far away, but the relationship with him seems to be strained. Jonas manages a sort of orphanage that he uses to extract blood from the children and sell it to the citadel for unknown purposes. Vesper is also quite smart,

and she likes to do some genetic engineering on plants when she has the time. One day, everything changes for young Vesper. A ship coming from the sky crashes near her position. One of the passengers, a woman named Camellia, falls from the ship and breaks her leg. Vesper wants to help her, so she takes her home. She heals Camellia’s wounds, and the woman promises to take Vesper and her father to the citadel if they can find the other passenger of the ship, a man named Elias. However, when Vesper goes to check, he finds that Jonas is

also there. Jonas kills Elias and suspects that there was another passenger on the ship. Vesper remains silent. Does Vesper Help Camellia Go Back To The Citadel? Vesper and Camellia begin to establish a relationship. A year ago, Vesper’s mother left to be part of a group of people called The Pilgrims. They are scavengers and drag the junk they collect to an unknown location. Vesper tries to communicate with the citadel so that they can come and pick up Camellia, but the only transmitter is with Jonas. When Vesper reveals to Camellia that Elias is dead, the woman mourns

him deeply. It is there that Vesper realizes that Camellia isn’t human, she is a Jug, a very advanced one who looks exactly like a human, has emotions, and more. Camellia explains that they were escaping from the citadel when their ship was shut down. Elias created her, but making a sentient Jug is a crime, and so he and Camellia needed to escape. Elias made a deal with another citadel for refuge, but they never got there. Vesper begins analyzing Camellia and discovers that her DNA is the key to unlocking the citadel seeds. Jonas discovers Camellia, and they

fight, but Vesper and Camellia overpower him. Vesper makes a deal, if he can leave them alone, he can have the seeds and enough food. No one needs to starve anymore. Jonas goes back to his place and calls the citadel, revealing to them that Camellia is with Vesper. Soldiers from the citadel arrive and kill Jonas before going to Vesper’s house. They don’t want anyone to know that Camellia exists. Vesper’s father stays behind and kills a bunch of soldiers by exploding the house’s reactor. Camellia and Vesper keep running, but there are too many soldiers. Camellia leaves Vesper

unconscious, but before that, she tells her that she has the seeds, and that she can change the world with them. Camellia allows the soldiers to take her. We don’t know what happened to her. Probably, nothing good. Vesper awakes the next morning and sees a group of Jonas’ kids following her. She allows them to, and she starts following the pilgrim route to see where these people take the junk. When they arrive at their destination, they see the pilgrims have built a huge tower with all the junk. Vesper climbs the tower to its summit, and there she

takes the seeds out and lets the wind take them. These new seeds will spread through the world and give food to every person living outside the citadels. Much of Vesper relies on arthouse stylings, using abstract symbolism and visual metaphors more than plain-eyed plot resolution. What allows the movie to succeed is a combination of Buožytė and Bruno Samper’s empathetic directing, Chapman’s engaging performance, a breathtaking final shot by cinematographer Feliksas Abrukauskas, and the stirring score of French composer Dan Levy.

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