Sneak Peek: The Vessel
From Executive Producers Terrence Malick & Sarah Green:
Music, Dancing, Fireworks, Childbirth. In an unnamed coastal town somewhere in Latin America, these are just a few things that vanished from a small fishing village after a massive tidal wave crushed the local elementary school, washing forty-six children out to sea. Father Douglas (Martin Sheen) urges the grief-stricken mothers to have more children, but hey refuse, locked in a state of perpetual mourning. Until one night when a local young man slips off the pier and drowns, only to mysteriously waken three hours later. “Could this be a sign from God?” the townspeople wonder.
Martin Sheen (TV’s “The West Wing,” Apocalypse Now)
Lucas Quintana (Wing it, Death of an Ally)
Jacqueline Duprey (Under Suspicion, Entre Nos)
Aris Mejias (Gabi, “Incógnita”)
Written & Directed by:
Filmed in both English and Spanish
Runtime: 86 Minutes
This transcript has been lightly edited:
The Critic: Listeners, you know, the Ref and I, we see so many movies.
The Referee: So many movies.
Critic: So many TV shows.
Ref: So many TV shows!
Critic: But, in this review, we get a little, special treat: an interesting movie called “The Vessel.”
Critic: Now, this movie, everyone, actually, is in both Spanish and English. So, they shot it twice, Ref!
Ref: That’s so cool.
Critic: Oh, my goodness. Now, this is written and directed by Julio Quintana.
Ref: Mm. Nice!
Critic: And, it stars the great (laughter) Martin Sheen, and it also stars Lucas Quintana, Jacqueline Duprey, and Aris Mejias.
Ref: Ooh, listen to all of that. I bet your microphone’s a little wet. (laughter)
Critic: And, of note is, it’s executive produced by Terrence Malick; and that is instructive for this film, everyone. Do you want to tell us about this, Ref?
Ref: Ooh, I get to tell it?
Critic: See, we’re swapping roles here. (laughter) Wait a minute. I gotta shift in my seat!
Ref: Shifty, shifty. Now, listen: “The Vessel” begins and opens with a lot of questions. It’s shot and takes place in some, undisclosed small town in South America.
Ref: We find that the village that they’re in is void of children.
Ref: Now, the lead, whose name is Leo — he and his friend are deciding to go off to a big city.
Critic: Yeah, because they can’t stay in this place. (laughs)
Ref: They can’t stay in this place; there’s no children; everybody’s depressed. But Leo is taking care of his mother, who seemingly has some sort of strange mental illness, almost like Alzheimer’s disease or something where she can’t clearly communicate; but she is still vibrant inside. She wears different colors; she wears lipsticks. And, he helps her get dressed, literally. He can’t leave her, so he’s going to bid his friend farewell. Now, the night before they leave, they decide (lowers her voice) to sneak in the church and drink a little communion, (voice back to normal) have a good time —
Critic: No, they didn’t! (laughter)
Ref: Ultimately, that good time leads to tragedy for both of them.
Ref: Both of them are dead.
Ref: Isn’t that terrible?
Ref: However, the local priest, who’s played by Martin Sheen, along with the townspeople, find that one of them comes back to life.
Critic: Ooh, three days later. (laughs)
Ref: Three hours.
Critic: Three hours, sorry.
Ref: He’s three-hours dead. (laughter) And, all of a sudden, the town is intrigued, because: Could this be an act of God? Could this be the end of the curse of that city, of that little town. Well, all kinds of miraculous things start happening. People are getting their joy back, seemingly. People’s animals, who’ve been ill, are coming back to life, all because of Leo. With that being said, Leo is very depressed. He’s sad. Why? Because tragedy has struck the town, and all the children that are gone were taken out by an extremely dramatic, weather-related situation.
Critic: Yeah, and that happened before the movie started —
Ref: Before. So, the question is: With this newfound miracle, will the town have faith to move past the tragedy? Or, will they stay in a depressed mode? Now, the priest, played by Martin Sheen, is doing everything he can to help revive the town. But is it enough? Is this new glimmer of hope enough? Will Leo finally be the miracle they need? Will he find the love that he desires? Will his mother finally treat him as equal? ‘Cause he’s dealing with his own demons of the past, concerning his mother. Where will all of this lead? Well, by the time you get to the end of it, there is a certain kind of catharsis that happens. But, I will say this: It’s beautifully played out. That’s the gist of the plot.
Critic: Oh, ooh. And let me tell you, everybody: The Ref did a great job of dancing around it, not giving ya too much.
Ref: No, ‘cause there’s some pivotal things.
Critic: Exactly, so there’s even more to it that enriches the story. Now, here’s the thing, though.
Ref: Uh-oh. Yep, yup.
Critic: I mentioned Mr. Terrence Malick.
Ref: Yes, this is the “Tree of Life” guy.
Critic: “Tree of Life” and all other kinds of things. So, we know that he has a certain aesthetic —
Critic: — when it comes to filming. The camera, it swoops around. You know, it flows. It’s not necessarily a logical connection all of the time. It’s more of an emotional one. Sparse dialogue; use of silence, of music; use of, just, natural sound: We get a lot of those things, here, from Mr. Quintana.
Critic: It’s beautifully shot.
Ref: It is beautiful. The colors — even as the town is in mourning and they’re in black, as soon as there’s any glimmer of hope, his use of color is beautiful, isn’t it?
Critic: Yes, even the interiors. Oh, we were talking about this —
Ref: Oh. Oh!
Critic: — before we recorded, Ref. One of the homes in there, everybody: There are pictures on the wall; it’s beautiful.
Ref: I wanna live there.
Critic: And, it even flows just like the water that they’re near, so that kind of thing. If you’re interested or you like those kinds of films, that’s great. I was even thinking of Terrence Malick’s “New World” movie with Colin Farrell.
Critic: That kind of thing is going on here, and even Ingmar Bergman, if you know those classic films. So, that’s one thing to consider if you’re thinking of watching this. I think that, for the most part in this film, it had a beautiful rhythm. I think that the actors had a nice spirit together. There was something about that cast; it really did seem like they were a town.
Ref: I agree.
Critic: And it’s not too long.
Critic: Yeah, it’s under an hour and a half, and I think that was helpful. So, here’s what I’ll say: If you like that kind of more languid pace — it’s not slow, but it doesn’t really move quickly — if you want to see this kind of story, which is really about mourning, it’s about loss —
Ref: How to deal with mourning, yeah.
Ref: How to deal with the past!
Critic: Yes! How do you move forward from that? Can you move forward? What does redemption look like? If those kinds of things sound good to you, definitely check this out. If you are an art-house buff, go to the movies —
Critic: — to see this.
Ref: You’ll appreciate it.
Critic: Yeah. If you’re not, if you’re just more into the story, I would say, you can wait. But, it will certainly affect you.
Ref: Yeah. I have to echo that, and we can end it here: Listen, I texted you right away, and I was like, “Oh, this is such a beautiful movie.” Is it perfect? No.
Ref: Is it always logical? Absolutely not. Are the performances perfect from everyone? No. But there is something very beautiful, and you will be touched, and you’ll be moved by it. You may not know how or why, but you will come out affected. And I think, for me, that’s worth a watch.