Vessel” is playing July 28, 5:35 PM at the J.A. De Seve Theatre.

poster3Directed by Adam Ciancio, who also wrote the screenplay, Vessel is a science fiction movie that examines the human cost of being the protagonist in a shared universe.

Okay, the plot. Ash (played by Marc Diaco) has been receiving messages from aliens, directly into his mind, since he was a young child. He has been mandated to pass on the messages he receives to a government handler, in secret, and then go on with his life. But the years of this otherworldly task have taken their toll on Ash, and he’s beginning to feel himself slip away. He’s blacking out, he’s lost his sense of taste, and now he’s losing his ability to feel emotions. At what point does does his life outweigh his humanity? Ash now has to decide what to do, and try and chase down the last hope of saving himself before it’s too late.

That’s the short of it, without getting to spoiler-y.

Okay, a few things about this movie before getting you too excited about it. It is a character study. Ash is in every scene of the movie, and you’re going to watch him wrestle with his issues for the whole of the movie. The movie is very deliberately paced, and it takes all the time it needs to get where it’s going. The acting in the movie is dramatic, serious, and grabs that one emotional chord and hits it again and again in a driving dirge of angst and worry.

Despite all of this, and because of all this, it was a great film.

Ash comes across perfectly as a man who may be carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, or may have just lost his mind. The acting by Diaco is so pitch-perfect that he keeps the viewer walking that line with him from start to finish.

The direction and cinematography is very glossy and angular, and mixed in with some simple but well used sound keeps the viewer tense as Ash tries to keep his life together. It’s strength is that in asking the audience to swallow the idea of extra-terrestrial contact, it presents every single character as behaving in a perfectly believable way in the face of their circumstances. It sounds obvious, but it really makes a movie better in my eyes when I never have to yell at the screen “Why the hell would he do that?!”

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Fantasia 2013 just started, but make sure to take the time to check out Vessel, a solid, thoughtful and slick science fiction entry. On top of it all, this movie is Cianco’s directorial debut and… and it was made for under 10,000$. I’m blown away. You will be too, so be sure to check it out.

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