“Vesper” is a delightful concoction of detail and simplicity, one that is easy to gulp down and leaves an effect for a long time. Although the drama film’s premise is a science-fiction post-apocalyptic world, its story is universal and relatable enough to make it seem almost like a coming-of-age tale. With the eponymous protagonist, Vesper, learning to find her way and take responsibilities in a world with no hope, the adventures she comes across and the ultimate choice that she has to make turn “Vesper” into a lovely tale of hope as well.
Set in the future world termed the New Dark Ages, the plot unfolds in a barren wasteland. Humans had made an attempt to prevent the ecological crisis by investing in genetic technology largely, but the process ultimately had failed. Instead, genetically engineered viruses and other harmful organisms escaped into the world and killed off vast numbers of life forms. While some humans survived, all food sources, be they plants or animals, were wiped out and left human society starkly divided. On the one hand are the rich and affluent, who live in protected cities called citadels, and on the other hand, everyone else, who are never permitted into these citadels. Although these citadels grow their own food from the seeds they had presumably preserved before the apocalypse, those outside rely only on these seeds that the citadels trade with them in exchange for other items. Even more harshly, these seeds traded are coded to produce a single harvest, and therefore the outsiders need to forever stay in need of the mercy of the citadels.
In such a world, Vesper is a thirteen-year-old girl with an exceptional talent for studying organisms of this new world and creating new life by mixing them with each other. However, her responsibilities weigh more than her respite for passionate experimentation, for Vesper has to look after her ailing father, especially since her mother left them about a year or so ago. The father, Darius, is bedridden and cannot move or speak on his own but communicates through the body of a metallic drone. It is with this drone, essentially her father, that Vesper goes around searching for new plants and forms of life to gather for food, medicine, and her own research. The world has other factions of danger, too, for a group of humans calling themselves the pilgrims mysteriously roam around, scavenging any and every metal they can find, and Vesper’s mother, too, had joined this group of pilgrims. Along with that, there are also raiders and bandits who go around looting and, on one occasion, visit Vesper’s house as well, taking away all the power resources. When she finds her father struggling for life without power because his heart and other organs are supported and kept running through external power, Vesper looks for help at her uncle Jonas’ farm. However, Jonas is a crooked leader of a group of outsiders, and he runs a business of trading the blood of young children in exchange for food and resources with the citadels. Vesper, too, has had to give her blood to get some minor help from her uncle once or twice, but she denies turning into a blood-breeding machine for Jonas.
One day, while sneaking around Jonas’ farm in search of food and medicine, Vesper gets hold of a great treasure—she manages to enter a room full of seeds that Jonas had received from the citadel and steals a few of them. On her way out, though, she also spots a few citadel drones flying in the sky, of which one falls out and crashes, and this poses a new possibility in Vesper’s young life.
Although Vesper manages to steal the seeds, they are clearly not worth much since they would only yield one harvest, and they would again have to depend on Jonas’ supply. But in young Vesper’s mind, she is confident that she will be able to engineer a way to decode the seeds and remove the single-harvest characteristic from them. With this, she plans to approach the citadels and secure a job and residency inside them, and then get her father’s ailment treated. All these plans keep buzzing in her head when she goes out the next day in search of more supplies. She spots a young woman lying unconscious in the forest and brings her back to her house. Vesper treats her back to health, and the woman is introduced as a member of the rich society living inside the nearest citadel. Camellia, as she is called, regains consciousness and looks for a man who had been inside the drone when it crashed. She tells Vesper that the missing man is her father, Elias, and offers to help the young girl and her father if she helps her find him. Camellia herself seems to possess special powers, as she can calm down and put one to sleep instantly with a kiss, as she does to Darius one night when he struggles with his pains.
On the other side, Vesper goes through the forest looking for the crashed drone and finds it too, but before she can rescue the trapped man inside, Jonas and his cult of children join her. They strip open the drone, and Jonas murders Elias and then collects whatever useful material they can find on him and the drone. Vesper returns home disheartened, but she does not tell Camellia anything about her father’s death. The young girl soon develops a bond with the woman, and she even takes her to see the countless different experiments Vesper had done and their results. Camellia also grows affectionate towards Vesper and learns more about her parents and their lives. But all things come to a sharp halt when Vesper is one day caught sneaking around Jonas’ farm. The cruel uncle had been suspecting that Vesper was stealing his germinating seeds, and now he confronts her. Vesper tries to run away but is intercepted by the children of the cult inside the forest, and they brand her with Jonas’ mark, meaning that she is considered part of the blood-selling group from now on. She runs back home and is comforted by Camellia, and now Vesper cannot help but reveal the truth that she has been keeping hidden for so long. She tells Camellia about her father’s fate and even takes her to the place where Jonas had thrown the man’s body, and Camellia has an outburst of grief and anguish. She now makes revelations of her own and tells Vesper that she is not a real human being but is instead a Jug, an artificial humanoid that people inside the citadels create to keep them as workers, almost like slaves. Despite it being a major crime to create a Jug with human-like intelligence, Elias had created Camellia exactly like a human being and had kept her safe for so long. But, her true nature had been revealed, and she and her father, therefore, had to escape from the citadel. They had indeed been escaping the citadel in their drone and were being chased by the authoritarian drones when their vehicle crashed, and they landed in the outside wastelands.
Hearing all this, Vesper realizes that her plan of escaping to the citadels with Camellia’s help is never an option, and she throws a childish fit at the woman. This further affects Camellia, and even though Vesper gets over her grief in some time, Camellia has a tougher time dealing with hers, and she tries to kill herself. Vesper intervenes, and then she asks Camellia if she could study a sample of her, and the woman agrees to let her do it. While researching the humanoid’s genetic sample, Vesper finally makes an immense breakthrough. She realizes that the real reason Elias had made Camellia was to hide inside her the secret to breaking the code of seeds yielding only a single harvest. When they had escaped their citadel, Elias had already made an agreement with a different citadel where they were promised safe shelter in exchange for Elias’ engineering masterpiece. Vesper now learns of it and immediately starts off to gather ingredients for her new research. However, Jonas visits her house in the meantime and finds Camellia there, and he also quickly learns that the woman is a Jug. Vesper returns and stops the man from causing any serious harm, and the two women take control of the situation. Although they can kill Jonas, Vesper decides to let him go instead and even treats the wounds he incurred. Before setting him free, the young girl tells him that she wants to make a deal with the citadels and would therefore want him to contact them. But Jonas seems to have something else in mind. As a man regularly trading with the citadels, he does have direct contacts there, and he does get in touch with them too, but only to inform them that he knows the location of Camellia, the Jug they have been looking for.
Much like most other things in the film, the character of Vesper is a fine balance between emotions and intelligence. From early on, she yearns for love and affection. She desires to have a family. The young girl still does not understand why her mother had left them, and she even has a close affection for a dead, unmoving human skeleton inside their old laboratory. It is because of this yearning that she takes Camellia into her life very quickly and opens up to her so easily. Perhaps the woman’s age makes her a good fit to be Vesper’s elder sister or young mother. In the end, when Vesper declines to kill Jonas, it is perhaps because the man is her uncle, her own blood tie, even though he had never wanted any good for them. On the other hand, Vesper is also not emotional enough to immediately use the power of her knowledge to help everyone around her. She decides to take the seeds and the new science she has learned to the citadel because, after all, she wants personal favors—to cure her father’s sickness.
The citadel police quickly arrive at the wasteland settlement, and the very first thing they do is cruelly shoot their informer, Jonas, dead. Knowing well that there was no way to avoid the citadel police force, Darius convinces Vesper and Camellia to escape the house and hide in the swamps while he distracts the police and sends them some other way. The girl reluctantly agrees and goes to the swamps, from where she painstakingly sees her house, and therefore her father, get blown to bits. Two of the personnel chase them inside the swamp too, and ultimately, Camellia decides to surrender herself to the police in order to save Vesper. The young girl continually pleads with her not to do so, not to leave her completely alone, but the more mature Camellia perhaps realizes the worth of Vesper to the world if she lives. With a kiss, she puts Vesper to sleep and then turns herself in; although her fate is not shown or mentioned, it is most likely that Camellia is immediately killed in the citadel.
The next morning, Vesper wakes up and finds herself all alone in the woods. She returns to her house, which is just debris now and plants three of the genetically modified seeds in the ground. Hearing scuffling noises, Vesper looks up to see that some of the children who had been part of Jonas’ cult are now following her since their leader is now dead. She walks across the vast barren land, clearly looking for something, and the kids follow her around. Gradually they become a group, and they come across the pilgrims, and Vesper now follows them to their camp. She had, in fact, always wanted to follow pilgrims to find out where they went, and now she sees that they have built a giant tower in the middle of the forest with all the scavenged wood and metal pieces. Vesper climbs up the tower and sees the citadels in the distance. Perhaps knowing too well that there was no need for any personal favors now since she had lost her father and also everyone else, Vesper decides to let the seeds go into the air, where they will naturally grow into new life wherever they land. A sad tale of loss and suffering thus ends with a bright ray of hope. Even though she could not perhaps save her own dream, Vesper compensates it with the dream of a new world with no shortage of food and supply.
“Vesper” is a 2022 drama science fiction film directed by Kristina Buozyte and Bruno Samper.
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'Vesper' Ending, Explained: What Happens To Vesper And Camellia … – DMT