ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Vessel (2016) review

Updated on October 31, 2016
The official US theatrical poster for "The Vessel."
The official US theatrical poster for "The Vessel." | Source

Book Snorting and Donkey Pushing

Filmed in Puerto Rico (the film has two versions: one in English and one in Spanish), The Vessel concentrates on a small town still reeling from the effects of a tsunami from ten years prior. “The Wave” wiped out 46 children, every child in town, while they were at school. The town refuses to move past its hardships as couples refuse to have any more children and Soraya (Aris Mejias) is a widow clinging on to the books her husband used to teach before inevitably being swallowed by the sea.

Lucas Quintana as Leo in "The Vessel."
Lucas Quintana as Leo in "The Vessel." | Source

Leo (Lucas Quintana) is left caring for his screw loose mother Fidelia (Jacqueline Duprey) after his brother dies in The Wave. When celebrating his last night together with his best friend Gabriel (Hiram Delgado) before Gabriel leaves for the city, the two drunkenly fall into the ocean and both die. Three hours later, Leo awakens as if nothing ever happened. He’s seen as a savior that can perform miracles by the simple-minded town and the local priest Father Douglas (Martin Sheen) believes that Leo has an obligation to inspire those around him.

Book snorting at its finest. Aris Mejias as Soraya in "The Vessel."
Book snorting at its finest. Aris Mejias as Soraya in "The Vessel." | Source

The Vessel is the writing and directing feature film debut for cinematographer Julio Quintana while his brother Lucas takes on his first big role as Leo. The one thing that will likely attract you to The Vessel is the fact that it’s executively produced by Terrence Malick. Even though Malick’s films generally polarize audiences, there’s no denying that his films revolve around beautiful cinematography. The Vessel has a unique perspective that makes the viewer feel like they’re constantly chasing after the person or persons being showcased on screen. The Puerto Rican landscape combined with the town being located directly on the beach and a camera angle that captures everything dynamically and in high definition is absolutely visually stimulating. The camera often seems to observe the action from over someone’s shoulder; almost like a third person shooter video game.

A scene from Julio Quintana's "The Vessel."
A scene from Julio Quintana's "The Vessel." | Source

The events of the film are pointless. Leo is thrown half a dozen allegories to Jesus, but they lead nowhere. He builds this structure out of the rubble that was the school, which suddenly becomes a boat when Leo turns it upside down one evening. With the help of a donkey, Leo pulls his hobo ark down to the dock. The film shows Leo struggling to get the donkey to move at one point and it dawns on you that this is a metaphor for the entire film. Watching The Vessel results in you feeling like you’re pushing a stubborn donkey into the ocean.

What really gets to you is how the people in this town act. They have this mob mentality that changes direction on a whim, then changes back or transitions in a completely different direction because they believe everything they hear. A religious reputation suddenly becomes the answer to everything as everyone latches onto this concept like it’s the sole life vest keeping them afloat in a raging sea. A priest basically blackmails one of the town occupants because he sees a way to inspire the people again and it rests on Leo’s shoulders. Everyone keeps proclaiming that Leo owes so much to the townspeople, when they haven’t done anything for him. His mom is ungrateful and obnoxious, his brother and best friend are dead, and the woman he’s loved since grade school is still dreaming about her deceased husband. All anyone in town does is ask for favors and gives passersby dirty looks. Leo is depressed and miserable and obviously has the desire to move on or at least let go of the very thing that is making him feel so horribly. Meanwhile he’s intimidated by the town priest to “do the right thing” while his mother acts out because she feels like the wrong brother died and she takes out her frustration and inability to deal with loss on the one son she still has. Why Leo hasn’t hopped onto the one motorcycle in town and sped off in whichever direction will take him the furthest away from such a soul-sucking environment is beyond comprehension.

Lucas Quintana as Leo in "The Vessel."
Lucas Quintana as Leo in "The Vessel." | Source

If you can somehow get past the cult-like townspeople who demand miracles from Leo and drag women by the hair on the beach when they disagree with something they’ve done, then Soraya will likely rub you the wrong way if you haven’t been rubbed raw by this point in the film. Soraya and Leo have a history; they were arranged to be married at a very young age but Leo put it off and Soraya ended up marrying someone else. Now that nothing is between them being together, Leo spends his days spying on Soraya but only while she does laundry and dries her wet hair. Leo is essentially the worst peeping tom ever. Meanwhile Soraya is all for spending more time with Leo until the townspeople notice that they’re spending time together and frown upon the idea. Then suddenly Soraya panics and has to have everything go back to Anguishopolis. She enjoys the scent of her husband’s books since they reminded her of him, but when there’s this sequence of her just frantically snorting as many books as possible you’re left with the urge of throwing each and every one of them directly at her head in hopes of knocking some sense into one of the nincompoops living in this one jackass town.

Martin Sheen as Father Douglas in "The Vessel."
Martin Sheen as Father Douglas in "The Vessel." | Source

Even with Martin Sheen’s impressive Chris Cringle facial hair, The Vessel annoys and irritates more than anything else. Its religious allusions violently crash into the one brick wall still left standing in town long before they’ve fully materialized and the acting mostly rests on everyone being stubborn and ignorant to a superhuman extent. The Vessel may be alluring to look at, but it’s absolutely torturous to endure and practically unbearable to watch.

1 star for The Vessel (2016)


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      Martin Fishkin 

      18 months ago

      I just wasted 90 minutes with my granddaughter Rylee watching this film. If anybody is reading this please don't bother watching this film about absolutely nothing. Your better off going to bed or watch Seinfeld reruns.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)