Review: Vera

Directed by Dante Iannetta and co-written with Wilder Carnes, an American businessman (Timothy J. Cox) falls in love with a young Russian woman (Sofya Nova) and brings her back to the states to meet his older sister (Tatyana Yassukovich).

On opening, the film gives off a vibe that’s akin to the sexploitation films of the ‘70s, it has a seedy atmosphere which tees up the story quite nicely. You’ll never quite know how the couple met, where and what happened to Vera that led her to be on the look for an American husband but that helps keep a mystery to things as they unfold. As Vera and Jack arrive at his sister’s house, everything seems quite cordial but it only takes seconds to sense her disapproval over her brother’s new beau.

Equally there’s no background on this sibling relationship prior to the events of the film but judging by Laura’s (Yassukovich) immediate dislike to Vera, it comes across as a blend of protectiveness, intimidation and overly maternal leanings with a touch of incestuous ambience. Keeping close to the action, the direction adds a certain claustrophobia, keeping you uncomfortably close to Laura’s venomous behaviour. The cast are a well matched trio, Nova presents a shy and polite Vera that’s convincing, although there are times where her awkwardness goes a little over the top, Cox makes Jack a very classic male stereotype of falling for a younger woman but with a mix of naivety and submissive behaviour, and Yassukovich easily sets Laura in a villainous light.

The stranger aspect, more odd than the incest like relationship, is that the writing and direction lend themselves to sympathise with Vera, to assume her intentions are honest but if you are to read the official synopsis of the film, it tells that she’s deviously using Jack (Cox). This creates the problem of the filmmaker’s intentions and the end product being in complete contrast, if it was their goal to make a film about a woman trying to give her child a better future by using an innocent man who fell in love with her, it doesn’t achieve that. There’s too much sympathy given to Vera, the outright distaste she receives the second she enters and complete lack of evidence to show her underhanded intentions, means the audience is led to want to protect Vera from Laura, rather than understand the reasons for her hateful attitude. All of that leaves you in a position of being unsatisfied by the film’s conclusion. You have the option to either go in blind or reading the synopsis, which is actually just the entire plot which potentially cuts down on the sympathy and lets you enjoy the film a tad more, or possibly enjoying it less because it creates that confusing contradiction. Either way it means that this one misses the mark.

While Vera is interesting and well shot in a simple yet effective way, the intended plot and finished film being at odds with each other is too hard to ignore.

Verdict: 4/10 | ✯✯

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