This overlooked Sci-Fi movie from 2022 is worth checking out

This overlooked Sci-Fi movie from 2022 is worth checking out

A film that for some reason went unnoticed by most in 2022 was Vespers, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi film with a teenage protagonist. While there is no shortage of films with this basic premise, Vespers do something different. It’s a visual spectacle that many audiences missed out on, with its box office numbers sorely lacking, earning just $1.5 million globally.


With little or no marketing and a limited theatrical release, Vespers quietly came and went with sci-fi fans who didn’t even realize what they were missing. That being said, let’s take a closer look at the film and why this 2022 translated sci-fi film is worth watching.

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Directed by Kristina Buožytė and Bruno Samper, Vespers is a film that was six years in the making for the pair, who also co-wrote the script with Bruno Clark. Vesper is a French film that was made in English to help it reach a wider audience. The plot follows a thirteen-year-old girl named Vesper (Raffiella Chapman), who, in a world thrown into The New Dark Ages, lives outside the high-walled citadels that house the oligarchy in charge of the food supply. Also essential to daily life are artificial humans called Jugs, whose sole purpose is to be used as slave labor.

In previous attempts to mitigate the climate crisis, the world had bet everything on genetic engineering, but engineered viruses and organisms escaped, wiping out much of the world’s plant life, animals and human population. The food supply is decimated, with seeds coded to produce only one crop, and a class divide designed to keep those outside the citadels dependent on their “generosity”. Vesper lives with her paralyzed father (Richard Brake) in the forest. Her mother is part of a group of people scavenging for technology and supplies, and a short distance away, Vesper’s uncle Jonas (Eddie Marsan) lives a callous existence that involves harvesting children’s blood to sell to residents of the citadel.

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While this may be the entire premise of the film, the real story begins when a Citadel ship crashes near Vesper’s forest home and she helps an injured passenger named Camellia (Rosy McEwen). Matters are further complicated when it is revealed that Camellia is a highly advanced jug, almost indistinguishable from a real human, including having real emotions. In the post-apocalyptic world they live in, jugs with so much progress are outlawed, so Camellia and her mate Elias tried to escape when their ship crashed. Together, Vesper and Camellia discover the secret to unlocking seeds so people can harvest continuously, while trying to stop poisonous Uncle Jonas from handing Camellia over to the Citadel.

From the beginning of the film, it’s hard not to be drawn into Vesper’s world as she burrows in a muddy expanse, shrouded in a thick fog as her hovering, smiley-faced drone follows her. As the shot widens, large jellyfish-like structures can be seen in the landscape. They are worn and rusted, and tower like ghosts over the land. As Vesper travels back to her home, the world looks exactly like the planet we know – until a tree pulses in the foreground as she passes, and strange flormsnake creatures emerge from the ground and try to nibble at her heels. The real shock is still to come when she enters her home and it is revealed that she is caring for her crippled father. He is connected to a series of tubes and hoses, and communicates with her through the drone that follows her around.

Clearly forced into independence and adversity from an early age, Vesper is an exceptionally intelligent and capable girl. She also lives a desperately sad life. Her situation is one of deep and crushing grief, only heightened by her uncle’s callous refusal to help her and her father without anything in return. After stealing seeds from Jonas and showing her father, saying that she will chop the seeds and work as a citadel researcher one day, he responds with “Oh Vesper, you don’t know what dreams cost.”

the vespers pilgrims

The world around Vesper seems to crush hope, but she stands firm in her belief that there is more that can be done to help the world, and that she can have a part in it. When she finds Camellia, it is hoped that rescuing her will pave her way into the citadel, but it soon becomes clear that instead it will be a chance encounter that could change the world.

Vespers is at times strong and barren, and at times beautiful and full of strange life. There is a scene between Vesper and Camellia where Vesper brings her an old book of animals that no longer roam and Camellia tells her what each one is and what it sounded like. After this exchange, Vesper brings her a harp-like instrument and the two make music. Immediately after this scene, Vesper goes to her uncle’s “orphanage” where she finds him tinkering with her drone, then finds the body of a child who helped her steal from him in the woods.

Vespers is both heartbreaking and hopeful, diving into the depths of despair and keeping the characters and the audience there longer than is comfortable. It tackles heavy questions such as grief, purpose and the horrors of family with nuance and sensitivity. It is set in a world that is ours but still alien, hostile but beautiful. Vespers is an undeservedly overlooked film from 2022, and deserves a legion of fans and accolades.

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