Ironically, for a movie with a title that translates to “state of emptiness”, Desolasi is a full-on assault on the senses. It’s as if director Syafiq Yusof is afraid of desolation himself, to the point that his movie is filled with mind-boggling visual effects, neverending explosions and anguished cries.
The story revolves around Aiman (Syamsul Yusof), a visual artist with his own perception of reality. Growing up, he coloured his drawings differently from the other kids in school and that made his teacher upset. Aiman questioned why God allowed suffering in the world. He said God could make everyone happy by just giving them what they want.
Of course, this doesn’t sit well with his religious father (played by Datuk Jalaluddin Hassan), who constantly reminds Aiman to perform his prayers.
After losing his mother and experiencing a series of mishaps, Aiman can no longer bear his suffering. Underneath the pouring rain, he looks up to the sky and asks God to make his problems go away. What do you know, Aiman wakes up the next day and finds himself all alone in the world. Or at least, in his perception of reality.
While Aiman enjoys his solitude, his father files a missing person report and goes on a frantic search to find him. He even has his own Taken moment with a mysterious individual linked to Aiman’s disappearance.
Desolasi makes full use of the technical expertise it has at its disposal to create Aiman’s desolate dream world. It is fascinating to watch Aiman run frantically through the strangely empty Bukit Bintang area in search of another soul. There is also a nice sequence where Aiman sees fishes swimming in the air instead of people. Later, he meets a mysterious lady in his world, Maya (Bella Dally) … or is she just another figment of his imagination? The two spend time in a serene purple garden together. In the midst of some spectacular visual displays, the movie asks viewers to ponder some serious questions about our beliefs.
When Aiman is shooting at the malls in KL, it feels like the director is saying no to consumerism. He explains it through Aiman, who has access to all the flashy cars, fancy clothes and big houses, yet feels empty.
However, Desolasi could have used a lot of restraint. Some silent moments could have been used to elegantly portray Aiman’s state of desolation instead of throwing in loud music and sound.
There are some scenes with special effects that feel highly unnecessary. The movie also tries to tackle too many issues, ranging from faith to fatherhood and soul-searching to soulmates. As a result, Desolasi could be an exhausting watch as you try to process all the different elements coming at you from every corner. But if you can get through it all, Desolasi is a mystery that ends on a satisfying note. At the end, the movie doesn’t need any special effects to tug at the heartstrings – just the heartbreaking revelation that a father would do anything for his son.
That’s all the reason you need to have a little faith in life.
Director: Syafiq Yusof
Cast: Syamsul Yusof, Datuk Jalaluddin Hassan, Pekin Ibrahim, Bella Dally