A scriptwriter goes to the lake in order to work on his most recent project in peace. However, he is interrupted by an angel named Dewi. The mute girl is trying to fly away into a life of peace from a father who wants her to marry instead of complete schooling.

Presented entirely in black and white, the visuals exist at the forefront of the production and set the tone for the entire production. With a wind-swept, small, isolated area as the only location, presenting nature in black and white acts in stark comparison to the vibrant colors one would expect. It becomes a suiting choice as the story unravels, with the visuals matching the stunted freedom the “angel” is having to face. It makes for some strong visual moments, with a good example in Dewi staring out over the lake to slowly turn to the camera. This moment is perfectly framed and shot, providing a sequence that is bound to resonate with viewers. It is within that moment that you can really feel the woman’s plight and need to escape to a better life.

The sound design is rather minimal, with no music to score the production. However, the voices come through clearly and the constant presence of wind and the nature around give the film a serene feeling. With the angel being mute and having to talk through a typewriter, the emphasis on atmosphere and capturing the serene plays a large part in the film’s success.

Given the lack of dialogue, the story does seem a bit underdeveloped, which leads to the ending being a bit more muddled than it needed to be. Although some clarity in the message may have helped the ending feel less abstract, the closing sequence still leaves a strong impression and adds a positive twist to the protagonist’s struggles. Overall, “Belas” leaves the viewer with a sense of hope. With the bulk of the run-time presenting an aimless and somber atmosphere, the ending really ties the film together in a romantic fashion

Director Adam Taufiq Suharto (“Balah Tuah“, “Falasi“) has shown a knack within his short films for innovative concepts explored through strong visual storytelling. His ability to make experimental cinema that allows the viewer to be drawn in and not isolated by the concepts presented reflects a strong understanding of storytelling. With “Belas” he further proves himself as a talent within the short film format.

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