MOVIE THEATER REVIEW: “The Vessel” stars Lucas Quintana (Wing It [Short], Death of an Ally [Short]), Martin Sheen (Apocalypse Now, Catch Me If You Can), Jacqueline Duprey (Under Suspicion, Entre Nos), and Ares Mejias (Sol de Medianoche, Endless Cycle). It is written and directed by Julio Quintana (Wing It [Short], Death of an Ally [Short]). Ten years after a tsunami destroyed a schoolhouse with all of the children inside, a town is still grieving, moving further away from God and optioning not to have anymore kids because of the catastrophe. However, when a man drowns and miraculously comes back to life three hours after being presumed dead, the town suspects that God has sent them another savior, but controversy is soon to arrive.
I just wanted to take the time to say that I saw this film at the first pre-screening that I have ever been to. I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve been dying to attend a pre-screening of a movie ever since I got into reviewing features. Hearing about them and how it is a perk for professional critics everywhere made it a dream for such an amateur like myself, and when I walked into that theater room, this overwhelming excitement washed over me. It’s my first one! I’m in the big leagues! Not really (I’m not being paid yet), but I am so darn close. To be honest, no matter what film was going to be displayed on the screen, it was going to be memorable in my mind and heart. Every time it will play, I will always recall my eighteen year old self sitting in a small theater room, eager and hungry to get my hands on any new realm of the reviewing and film business. Surprisingly, and ever so fortunately, enough, this movie was actually good; and not just your typical “good,” but rather great. Since “The Book of Eli,” I’ve been wanting to delve into another terrific religious release. Not one of those sappy, sugary groan-fests where the only focus is how God loves us and how we should all love one another. Both statements are true, but they are done in such a Hollywood fashion that it kills me on the inside to watch. I want something of weight, of grit. Something that will leave me thinking and thriving towards making my own religious movies. “The Vessel” has to be a prime example of how to make a religious film right. From the glorious cinematography to the utter, brutal sense of reality and how misguided humanity is in the face of loss, this piece of cinema hits it home in many ways, and I don’t know where to begin. Let’s start with the story. Having a Q&A session with the writer/director, Julio Quintana, and his producer, opened my eyes to the struggle it was to bring this plot to life. Quintana talked about how he went through a rough patch in his life where he felt abandoned by God, but through his questioning and re-building of his relationship with Christ, he was able to pen down such a deep and symbolic script that was both thought-provoking and incredibly interesting. We are given a town devoid of God; one that feels like they were done wrong by him over a terrible accident, thus shutting him out and crying out “why.” Soon, a character is brought up through a miracle of circumstance, bringing the town hope that God is working through this person. It is such an engaging concept, and I couldn’t help but get wrapped up in it. You can tell that there is a lot of heart and passion behind this project. Julio even said that he had to raise money to move forward with production, essentially making it while not getting paid. The amount of intelligence in the script is what I crave. I’m sick of films spoon feeding me the story, and this one loves to pick at the brain. Not in a scientific sense, but more of a symbolic one, like I stated earlier. Even in its dull, dry moments, I felt like there was something heavy going on, but I will say that it did have a few scenes that dragged. Nothing too bad, but enough to mention. Moving on, we get to the cinematography, which was by far the best part. The beautiful landscape that this was filmed at was magnificent, and the camera work was amazing. When there was no narration and just silence (which happened quite a bit), it spoke with its visuals. I loved looking at this, and would see it again specifically for that reason. The performances that filled the roles were fine, but not too noteworthy. The main star was a bit shaky, but soon gained some points towards the end as his character began to grow. Martin Sheen did really good, although he wasn’t the central figure the poster provokes. Something about him in a preacher’s suit and a thick beard makes for a great character, though. The other actresses did well, although the symbolism soaked up their characters more than anything, which wasn’t even a bad thing. I’m not the most knowledgable Christian on the planet, but I can tell that with more viewings of this, I’ll catch more and more symbols to certain things in the Bible as well as its conflict. For example, in my first viewing, there was a scene where our main character was pulling this boat, up a hill to the shore side to sail it. Not only was it made out of the wood that made up the school that was destroyed in the tide, but it also looked to reference the moment in the Bible where Jesus was carrying his cross. I could go into further detail, but I don’t have enough time nor can I hold your attention for longer. All I can say is that this is a truly amazing release. It speaks in both visuals and dialogue, which makes for a story that anyone can get involved in. Other than some scenes that dragged and acting that wasn’t the best, there isn’t many cons to say. It had some kinks, but in general it was fantastic. Whoever is looking for a more spiritual and realistic religious film, check this one out. You won’t regret it. FINAL SCORE: 93%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: