David: Hello, and welcome to all our new readers, and a fond hello to all our regular readers as well. Today we have a short film called Vesper, sent to us by director Keyvan Sheikhalishahi. The short stars Götz Otto, Agnès Godey, and Keyvan Sheikhalishahi. The film is in French, subtitled in English. We follow a relationship between Marge and Walter, and nephew Christian gets involved in a tangled web of lies and suffering.
Shannon, what was your initial impression of Vesper?
Shannon: My first impression was that I was really confused. I’m not blaming the film here, I’m pretty sure it was my internet connection, but the subtitles were about 2 minutes off from when the people we speaking. So it was hard to tell who was saying what. Even though this was the case, I still pretty much got some of the gist of what was going on. Marge and Walter have a strange relationship and Marge seems terrified of him. But as much as she wants him to go away, he is always there.
David, I’m hoping that you have a better understanding of the movie. Am I way off on this? Also, what do you think they are talking about when the “stars haunt you”? I have an idea, but am curious what you think.
David: Ok, so my subtitles seemed fine, but even I was a little confused. I think there is an element of the paranormal, or at least something Twin Peaks-esque going on here. There is a lot of repeated shots and dialogue that seem to point to a larger story than we are getting. Marge seems to be forgetting something from her past, which is haunting her. The only memory she has of that night is of the stars. Hence “the stars haunt you” line from Walter.
However, this gets more complicated, because what Walter says doesn’t seem to have come to fruition, as we learn in the final shot of the film. It’s possible that Walter has an additional agenda - is he some kind of demon? A ghost figure? An alien? All of that is left unsaid, possibly because we are to try and figure out a larger story on our own.
Considering that Keyvan is a younger filmmaker, you can see some small mistakes that are attempts to be more artsy. I thought the story itself was fine, if lacking a bit in conclusion. But there are a few camera shots - in particular one on the beach where the camera does a full spin - that leave a lot to be desired. Did anything about the camerawork or the direction stick out for you?
Shannon: I wouldn’t say that anything about the camerawork stuck on in my opinion. I do know what you mean about the scene at the beach. Typically, I don’t like when the camera spins around like that. For the same reason I don’t usually like “found footage” films, but I think it worked well in the scene regardless.
I had the same thoughts about who Walter really was. For most of the film I thought he was a ghost, but then why would her nephew go see him? Perhaps she is schizophrenic?
Speaking of the beach scene, I had a couple thoughts on that. Them walking out towards the ocean was super long. Do they have huge beaches in France? Also, I’m sorry to say, but that crying and screaming was just awful to watch by the nephew. What did you think about the acting, David?
David: Oh I liked the schizophrenic idea - that’s something I hadn’t really thought of. Maybe Walter is her psychiatrist?
They do have large beaches in France. Think Normandy and D-Day (free history lesson and geography lesson here at DFP!). I thought the acting was a mixed bag. It’s obvious that Otto is the most experienced actor, because he brought a menace and a suspicious thrilling air to his lines. I do agree with your sentiment that the wailing could probably have gotten better - I’m also curious as to why he was like that in the light, and why he took so long to put his extra glasses on?
And if he’s super sensitive to light… why was he standing outside in the sun at the end??? It kind of reminds me a bit of the movie Kosmos that we watched, where there are a lot of open-ended characters to possibly be developed into a further story.
Can you think of any other comparisons that we have watched?
Shannon: As far as the characters, I don’t think so. Nothing comes to mind anyway. But Kosmos is a good comparison for the film altogether. I feel like the whole stars aspect of it really makes that comparison for me, because they are there but you aren’t 100% sure why.
I agree with you about Otto, he definitely brought the creepy factor to the screen like he was some sort of stalker to Marge. Is there anything else you’d like to touch on about VESPER?
David: No, I’m pretty happy to tie this one up in a bow. Through I enjoyed pieces of the film, I thought overall it was fairly average and needed a bit of polishing. I’m going to give it a “C-”. What is your grade Shannon?
Shannon: I think I’m going to say it’s “okay” as far as my rating goes. There wasn’t anything terrible about it, other than the fact that I had so many questions throughout and even after it was over, but I too enjoy pieces of the film. Particularly Walter. (2.5/5).
Thank you to the director for reaching out to watch this film!
David and Shannon write about movies.