Review: Vessel

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Vessel is a sci-fi comedy that follows two lonely romantics as they go to absurd lengths to be anybody but themselves.

Technology sets us up with unrealistic expectations when it comes to the dating scene. In Ethan Godel’s short film Vessel, modernized dating is taken to a whole new level, where technology physically controls how we interact with each other. The film is set in a parallel future devoid of romance, where two individuals pretend to be anybody but themselves.

The film opens with an overdressed couple, Tom Murray (Tim Blair) and Lucy Parker (Kasi Mcauley), on a date, mid-conversation. They embellish in their interests, over-enunciating their words to please one another. Ethan Godel depicts how conversations are loaded questions. Each person is being told what to say via an ear-piece, in order to appear more interesting.The couple are dis-ingenuous; showcasing shallow, one-dimensional versions of “themselves”. Their internal struggle with their identity is captivating, as Godel delves into how you can never really know someone. Sometimes people can be close to you, physically, yet they can be so distant, emotionally. 

Godel accurately displays the contents of one’s mind when dating; the nerves, and struggling to articulate a conversation. He depictshow people constantly seek approval and validation from others. This stems from a fear of failure and a lack of trust. People lie about their flaws, or over-exaggerate their accomplishments to impress other individuals. Godel shows how technology is overwhelming; plaguing people with doubt, andcausing them to conceal their feelings. People have become so entangled in this technological web void of emotions and truth, that they lose sight of themselves. This digital era has heightened their doubts, fears, and insecurities. Godel portrays how people sabotage potential “connections” due to their inability to understand what it is like to truly love someone.

Love within the film, is a farce. It is not meant to be calculated, or recorded. The characters lack basic human emotions, and the physical aspects of connecting intimately are falsified. The physical act of love is just that – an act. The sex is irrelevant since the couple are not emotionally invested. Godel conveys how people have become so captivated by technology, that theyseem to prefer fantasy to reality. These are often unrealistic and unattainable expectations for the average individual tocomparewith. Godel addresseshow technology also stimulates the human mind. People are constantly overthinking, wondering what it would be like to act like, or be someone else, even just for a day. People have become shells of themselves; deprived of realpleasure. 

Dating has become a matter of perspective. In the elaborate facade of Vessel, conversation is easier if the characters pretend to be someone else, rather than being genuine. Godel conveys that despite people wanting to change, they should not have to. Everyone has flaws, and people must think and act of their own volition. People are not meant to be empty and emotionless. Ethan Godel borrows these thematic inspirations from his own perilous dating lows, where he conformed to jaded societal expectations.Although technology has made dating more convenient and accessible, people have become more susceptible to disappointment. Godel thoroughly conveys how people long for human connection, but the ability to connect is daunting. Though people may want and deserve love, they will not be happy if they cannot communicate, and cannot be themselves. 

More info & links:

  • Director: Ethan Godel
  • Vessel is available to stream on CBC Gem.
  • Vessel is available to stream on Vimeo.
  • Vessel won CBC’s Short Film Face-off competition in 2019.
  • Vessel screened at the Ottawa Canadian Film Festival in 2020.

Catharine Horsley

Film Reviewer

Catharine Horsley is a film studies graduate from Carleton University, who is addicted to the cinema. She is very passionate about art, photography, and filmmaking. Her dream is to become a screenwriter or film critic. When Catharine isn’t watching movies, she finds joy in reading, writing, painting, and cooking.