Obsolesk (2010) – By Matt Barry

Intriguing in concept and well-crafted in execution, Obsolesk is a futuristic sci-fi short that looks at a totalitarian society in which its members are ordered to comply with a number of stringent regulations, down to minutia such as replacing obsolete pieces of furniture and household appliances within a certain timeframe, all the way to restricting the length of unwed courtship in interpersonal relationships! Lian Barrowman (Richard Zekaria) takes a beating from two officers who have invaded his home to check up on his compliance with state orders. He sees his possessions ruined. It is, in fact, a shared interest in obsolete objects that allows him to find other, kindred spirits in this impersonal, regimented future.

Director Fernando Toscano maintains a strong sense of atmosphere, somewhat cold and impersonal, in keeping with the themes of the film, which are really emphasized in the brief exchange of glances and smiles between the man and woman in the final sequence of the film, taking place at a bus stop in an otherwise ordinary looking world. The performances are generally strong, although there are some weaker moments during the dialogue scenes particularly at the very beginning of the film. By and large, the most effective moments are those that are conveyed entirely visually, such as that final sequence mentioned above. Certainly, the tone of the film conveys well enough the kind of domestic tranquility that will soon be offset by the intrusion of the state officers. Still, I couldn’t help feeling that the film would have been more effective if it had drawn even more of a contrast between the lives of the two main characters within the totalitarian future. I found myself wanting to know more, too, about this society and to perhaps delve deeper into the significance of the strict policing over obsolescence. As mentioned earlier, the concept itself is quite intriguing, with the question, “Are you obsolete?” posed to the viewer right at the start, a phrase seen on posters throughout.

Obsolesk is, overall, an effective science fiction concept well executed within the short film format.