Moody, brooding and mysterious the film The Vessel takes you on a journey to a town that has stood still. Nicely acted with a fine cast that includes Martin Sheen in a role that’s touching and bold, the movie prods at your heartstrings and digs into your soul. It’s the kind of rare film that offers a skewed look at tragic events.
In a small coastal fishing village in Latin America the solemn results of a tidal wave that destroyed an elementary school killing 46 children still remains in the mind of those that were affected by the awful event. The women of the village have tried to move on from the memories of their loss, but are resistant to have more children to rebuild their community. Instead they mourn and refuse to wear anything other than black. Then another accident involving Gabrielle (Hiram Delgado) causes the town’s people to sink further into a downward spiral.
When a miracle of sorts happens to Leo (Lucas Quintana) that Father Douglas (Martin Sheen) cannot explain, attitudes in the town start to change. Director Julio Quintana does a very good job of setting the somber mood that shrouds the small village. The gloom continues throughout with a smattering of colorful dresses, a festival and a makeshift boat that’s being built by Leo. Imbedded in all the morbidity are rays of hope from the despair that Quintana uses for assurance that his tale won’t drown his audience in grief.
Assuring a good entertainment experience, the cast does a stellar job of bringing their characters to life. I especially like the four main stars Martin Sheen, Lucas Quintana, Jacqueline Duprey and Aris Mejias. Sheen uses his talent to create the puzzled Father Douglas who can’t come to grips with a sudden miracle and a change in the town’s people. Although he uses the incident to his advantage, it’s only a band aid on a much larger wound.
As Leo’s mother Fidelia, Jacqueline Duprey represents the deeper psychological despair the woman caries from a needless loss beyond the destruction of the school. She won’t wear black like the other women in the village and flaunts her light colored garb in front of them. When her son Leo tries to pull her from her lethargy, she resists.
As Leo the boy who cannot come to understand his mother’s mental state, Lucas Quintana provides a character that allows the audience to see the story from several sides. He’s moved on since the horrible circumstances involving the village and the special grief in his mother has become enslaved. Trying to resolve the impasse over the challenges she’s gone through, Leo turns to Soraya (played skillfully by Aris Mejias) who does everything she can to help him.
The Vessel has been rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some partial nudity/sensuality and thematic elements. The movie was filmed simultaneously in both English and Spanish providing two of the same film for the respective audiences. It’s pretty unique, but may not be available in most locations. Each has subtitles if you cannot find a showing in your language.
FINAL ANALYSIS: A very good film for film festival goers, film buffs and future film makers. (B)
Additional Film Information:
Cast: Martin Sheen, Lucas Quintana, Jacqueline Duprey and Aris Mejias
Directed By: Julio Quintana
Genre: Drama, Foreign
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some partial nudity/sensuality and thematic elements
Running Time: 1 hr. 26 min.
Release Date: September 16, 2016
Distributed by: Outsider Pictures
Released in: English and Spanish with subtitles