5 Movies Like Vesper (2022)

Staff & contributors

Paul Giamatti knocks in out of the park in Win Win. The movie has so much humanity in it as well as a fantastic story that's rooted in normalcy. At last a movie about second chances that is anything but cheesy. The rhythm of the humor in this movie helps you move through the serious themes unscathed (for the most part). In sum, the jokes are spot-on and the acting is excellent.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Family

Actor: Alex Shaffer, Amy Ryan, Bobby Cannavale, Burt Young, Clare Foley, Darren Goldstein, David W. Thompson, Edmund Ikeda, Jeffrey Tambor, Marceline Hugot, Marcia Haufrecht, Margo Martindale, Melanie Lynskey, Nina Arianda, Paul Giamatti, Sharon Wilkins, Tim Ransom

Director: Tom McCarthy

Rating: R

Kill Bill meets Bend It Like Beckham in this wild ride about a martial arts-obsessed British-Pakistani teenager who views her older sister’s impending marriage as a catastrophe to be averted at all costs. Aspiring stuntwoman Ria (Priya Kansara) can’t stomach the idea of free-spirited Lena (Ritu Arya) giving up on her creative dreams to marry a nauseatingly perfect man — not least because art school dropout Lena is her hero for refusing to conform to their community’s traditional ideas about respectability and success.

Polite Society makes room to sensitively explore Ria’s disappointment and the loneliness of rebellion, but writer-director Nida Manzoor doesn’t stop there, throwing in a sharp allegory disguised as a zany twist. Rather than upending our expectations for upending’s sake, the surprise metaphor refigures the movie as perceptive cultural commentary on the age-old devaluation of women as mere vessels for the next generation. What’s more, Manzoor takes the analogy full circle to thoughtfully imagine how this kind of dehumanizing misogyny might have affected previous generations, suggesting that the real villains lie offscreen. Movies as inventive and intelligent as this don’t come around often, but one that’s this funny, visually bold, unabashedly feminist, and full of stars-in-the-making is rarer still.

Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Drama

Actor: Akshay Khanna, Ella Bruccoleri, Eunice Huthart, James McNicholas, Jeff Mirza, Jenny Funnell, Nimra Bucha, Priya Kansara, Rekha John-Cheriyan, Renu Brindle, Ritu Arya, Seraphina Beh, Shobu Kapoor

Director: Nida Manzoor

A man returns to a town chasing the memory of a woman he loved years ago.

Poet turned filmmaker Bi Gan coats his idiosyncratic filmmaking with a thick layer of neo-noir in this sumptuous follow up to his remarkable debut Kaili Blues. This time around, Kaili City is a neon-drenched dreamscape dripping in style and calling to mind the work of Tarkovsky and Wong Kar-wai. 

He may wear his influences on his sleeve, but Bi Gan keeps his trademark moves like the bravado long takes and a poetic disregard for past and present, reality and dreams. This leads to an explosive and unforgettable sequence in the second half that while originally intended for 3D loses little of its mind-bending power when watched at home.

Genre: Drama, Mystery

Actor: Bi Gan, Bi Yanmin, Chen Yongzhong, Chloe Maayan, Duan Chun-hao, Feiyang Luo, Hong-Chi Lee, Huang Jue, Jue Huang, Lee Hong-chi, Ming Dao, Qi Xi, Sylvia Chang, Tang Wei, Tuan Chun-hao, Zeng Meihuizi, 张艾嘉

Director: Bi Gan

Rating: Not Rated

A Korean police comedy built on a premise so dumb it's brilliant: a group of bumbling cops who are so bad at their job that they accidentally start an amazing fried chicken restaurant while undercover. All of the suspense and excitement that should be going into their actual mission is spent on this new job that actually begins to give them coordination and a greater sense of purpose. There may not be much of a deeper meaning to be found here, but the characters are lovable enough—and the filmmaking sharp enough—to get you invested in their personal happiness, and to get you to appreciate how strong editing and performances can make even the smallest throwaway line spit-take hilarious.

Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime, Family

Actor: Gong Myeong, Gong Myoung, Han Jun-woo, Heo Joon-seok, Honey Lee, Jang Jin-hee, Jeong Jae-kwang, Ji Chan, Jin Sun-kyu, Jung Won-chang, Kim Eui-sung, Kim Ji-young, Kim Jong-soo, Kim Kang-hyun, Kim Nam-woo, Lee Dong-hwi, Lee Ha-nee, Lee Joong-ok, Lee Jung-ok, Na Chul, Oh Jung-se, Ryu Seung-ryong, Shin Ha-kyun, Shin Shin-ae, Song Young-gyu, Tae Won-seok, Yang Hyun-min, Yoo Je-yoon

Director: Lee Byeong-heon, Lee Byoung-heon

Rating: Not Rated

The opening titles of this French procedural drama explicitly tell us that the crime it chronicles will go unsolved, confessing that it’s about one of the approximately 160 murder cases that police don’t crack each year. An ambitious and intriguing opener — suggesting that, in the absence of a clean resolution, the film will nonetheless offer us something equally compelling, as Zodiac does. 

In following the investigation of the brutal murder of 21-year-old Clara (Lula Cotton-Frapier) — for which the police interrogate various of her exes, all misogynistic potential murderers in their own ways — the film seeks to explore the society-wide “problem between men and women” that has given the police its surplus of suspects. Alas, it’s much more interested in the psychological impact cold cases have on policemen like frustrated captain Yohan (Bastien Bouillon). There’s something deeply ironic about making a movie about the systemic dehumanization of women just to center male perspectives, especially when their only insight into the epidemic of toxic masculinity is Yohan’s clunky “We can’t find the murderer because all men killed Clara.” The film’s treatment of the victim herself — incurious and downright gratuitous in the depiction of her murder — cements it as a shallow, un-self-aware, and failed attempt to reckon with a subject that deserved its full focus.

Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Actor: Anouk Grinberg, Bastien Bouillon, Bouli Lanners, Camille Rutherford, Charline Paul, Johann Dionnet, Jules Porier, Julien Frison, Lula Cotton-Frapier, Marc Bodnar, Matthieu Rozé, Mouna Soualem, Nicolas Jouhet, Paul Jeanson, Pauline Serieys, Pierre Lottin, Théo Cholbi, Thibaut Évrard

Director: Dominik Moll