It’s a rare thing to care for characters so soon in a film, let alone in the first three minutes of a short film.
In other words, when the film provides enough good backstory in merely a few minutes with not a tone of dialogue and narrative, not needing five episodes of backstory or hours of content before feeling some sort of connection to its characters. Good dialogue and good writing is probably the main reason for this and one of the reasons Vesper was an interesting short film to watch.
There’s a great sense of anticipation in Vesper after finding out that the main protagonist’s ex-partner or ex-husband has found her location and is coming after her because he wants to be with her even though she doesn’t. When the woman talks with her nephew, the background music and sound effects set the tone and continue to heighten over time, creating a nerve-racking ambience.
It’s interesting to have the woman’s ex linger over her in the scene despite not actually being present. Meaning she is the only one that is seeing him. When she tells her nephew it’s like he is watching over her, the film makes this literal. Having her ex present in the scene shows his power over her and makes the scene much more powerful as how strong his hold over her is.
The protagonist quotes that ‘fear makes you wonder if you will get out alive’, establishing and solidifying the position of her ex as a predator. This lingering darkness surrounds three central characters, the woman, the ex and the nephew. Of course, the teenage boy wants to be the hero and make things right, but you can’t help and roll your eyes at him, understanding that he means well, but knowing that he will not doubt loose.
Vesper developed into something that was ultimately about a woman’s denial, what’s really happening and the truth starting to come out. We discover that she’s hiding the truth from herself and she’s blocking it out. What’s real and what’s not real become confusing to the viewer as the film gives us multiple cuts and the main character waking up repeatedly. We wonder whether she’s telling the truth or lying, whether characters are alive or dead.
This unsettled narrative can be common in short film and leaves it’s ending open to interpretation. I tend to have a love / hate relationship with this and believe that others might be the same too.