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The movie 'Vesper' takes us to another world, and is simply magnificent

It seems foolish to speculate on why one movie gets promoted and another gets dumped, but what I do know is that while franchise films take up nearly every screen at the multiplex, there are a lot of fascinating movies that get shoved to VOD platforms and just float away on the wind, because people never even know they’re there in the first place.

I have the benefit of getting promotional emails for some of these films because of my position, and while this sometimes means sifting through some real dreck, it also means I thank my lucky stars when I come across a movie like Vesper. And this also means I can pass my good fortune along to you. Because Vesper is simply magnificent.

It takes place sometime in the future, after viruses and catastrophes have completely upset the social order, and small groups of elites live in enclaves called citadels. Vesper is very much not one of those elites—she’s a teenage girl living with her incapacitated father, who she can still interact with because his brain is hooked up to a spherical drone that floats around and talks to her. Vesper and her people are wholly reliant on the citadels for sustenance, as the seeds that produce their food are biologically engineered by the citadels to last only one year, meaning the people have to continually pay to produce a harvest. Vesper, though, is smart, and resourceful, and is sure she can find a way to unlock the seeds to become more sustainable.

This sounds like it’s geared toward a young adult audience, and while it’s not not that, the film is also much darker than you might expect from something like that. There are scenes that are genuinely upsetting, and the way it combines technology with biology, using organic matter to create machines, feels like it was inspired by the decidedly not-child-friendly work of David Cronenberg. Some things aren’t supposed to go “squish.” The movie creates an astounding world to look at, and it smartly doesn’t try to explain every strange detail, leaving us to wonder about a lot of what happens. Vesper truly takes us to another world, and it’s a movie that ought to have been given a fair shot at being seen.

Fletcher Powell has worked at KMUW since 2009 as a producer, reporter, and host. He's been the host of All Things Considered since 2012 and KMUW's movie critic since 2016. Fletcher is a member of the Critics Choice Association.