Vesper’s opening shot is of Marge (Agnès Godney) leaving her room and heading downstairs. As she descends the stairs, her estranged husband Walter (Götz Otto) is there, and they have a brief conversation about her esoteric dream. As she passes him on the landing and gets to the bottom of the stairs, he is already there, as if a ghostly apparition. Marge’s nephew, Christian (Keyvan Sheikhalishahi), stops by to check-in, as Marge has sequestered herself after her unhappy marriage to Walter dissolved. Marge explains that ever since Walter left, she’s been receiving odd letters from him. Christian vows to confront Walter and put an end to his beloved family member’s mental anguish. However, as Christian uncovers the truth of what is haunting Marge, he learns things aren’t necessarily what they seem. Is Walter a ghost? Has Marge completely lost her mind?
It is clear that this is a passion project for Keyvan Sheikhalishahi. In addition to co-starring, he tackles producing, writing, directing, costuming, and art/ production design duties for this 23-minute thriller. All that dedication pays off in a big way, as Vesper is a profound and fierce watch which enthralls the audience from start to finish.
“…Christian vows to confront Walter and put an end to his beloved family member’s mental anguish.”
The cinematography adds a haunting, ethereal quality to the mystery at hand. In one emblematic scene, Marge bursts from her bedroom to the living room to re-read a few of the letters. As she scrambles to find them, the editing and camera work in tandem to craft a sense of tension and unease. Such a haunting atmosphere drips from every frame.
The three members of the cast all do a fantastic job. Godney doesn’t play her possible mental health issues in an over the top fashion, instead choosing a more nuanced and affecting manner to convey what is happening. Otto comes across as terse and bull-headed, but as the story unfolds, he parlays that into authentic tenderness. Sheikhalishahi’s nephew character is mostly the same from beginning to end, but he has excellent chemistry with both of his co-stars, and his devotion to his aunt feels genuine.
Vesper delivers a well executed, thought-provoking, moody thriller in under 30 minutes. The cast is great, the editing is taut, and the plot is mesmerizing.
Vesper (2018) Directed by Keyvan Sheikhalishahi. Written by Keyvan Sheikhalishahi. Starring Agnès Godney, Keyvan Sheikhalishahi, Götz Otto.
10 out of 10