Review: DESOLATE Is Quite Barren

FIRST IMPRESSION

The biggest issue with Desolate isn't in its execution — it is that the story is incoherent and unsatisfyingly bland.
Writing
Directing
Acting
Technical Merit

Desolate, co-written and directed by Frederick Cipoletti, is the rare film with a generic title that actually works, as this action-drama is just as bleak and empty as its name would suggest. The movie, following a young man who must survive and seek revenge in the worst drought in history when he is left for dead by his two brothers, is perhaps one of the most rambling movies you will see all year.

The core story shows a surprising amount of potential, hence why the end result is so thoroughly disappointing. With a bit more expansion of the mythology, the film easily could have been a lower-budget, more personal version of Mad Max. Instead, we are left in an awkward in-between where the movie is too out there to feel realistic but a tad too grounded to be post-apocalyptic.

The film’s pacing is also a significant issue. Movies like this are best when they are given a simple set-up and prolonged suspenseful conflict. Desolate delivers the exact opposite: an extremely overlong set-up and short conflict with minimum suspense. It takes almost half of the runtime for the main plot to kick in, which is a clear indicator of how inept this script is at keeping the audience entertained.

Additionally, the themes which the film addresses are nothing new, being some of the most common messages associated with the revenge genre. The movie’s main point seems to be about loyalty, which would have been fine if the filmmakers had anything unique or insightful to say about that topic. As a result, the film feels like little more than an exercise in style-over-substance.

desolate bike

Also equally shallow are the characters. Perhaps the single biggest issue with the movie is that it is so bleak, and as such, all of the characters have an extremely cynical outlook on life. Even if you are cynical yourself, it becomes hard to relate to the characters because of their extreme resentment towards others and the world in general.

The actors don’t do a bad job, but that is because they aren’t given much to do. The dialogue is straightforward and there is very little emotion in the script, so the film didn’t require a particularly large range from its cast. Will Brittain, who plays the protagonist, gives what is likely the most memorable performance, if only because he has the largest amount of screen time.

On a technical level, the movie is somewhat impressive, further contributing to the disappointment that the film is not better than it is. The visual style is appealing in many ways, making you wish that there had been more substance in the script. Cipoletti shows that he has talent and an eye behind the camera, so perhaps he would be better off directing a script written by someone else.

Desolate is one of those movies that is so aggressively bland that it becomes hard to watch. Although nothing about the film is particularly bad, the general air of mediocrity that surrounds it ultimately leads it to failure.

Desolate hits theaters and VOD on July 12.

TRENDING THIS WEEK

Snowfall | Season 3 Ep. 1: Manboy’s Move Highlight | FX

Wanda really gonna do that to Leon? Manboy's about to start some sh*t. Watch Snowfall on Wednesdays at 10pm on FX. Subscribe now for more Snowfall clips: http://bit.ly/SubscribeFX In Season 3 of Snowfall, crack cocaine is spreading like wildfire through Los Angeles. Local police fight to stem the tide, while Teddy works hard to make…

The 100 | Matryoshka Scene | The CW

The 100 is new Tuesdays at 9/8c on The CW, and available next day on The CW App: http://go.cwtv.com/genHNDyt SUBSCRIBE: http://go.cwtv.com/YTSubscribe About THE 100: The human race returns, after a 97-year exile in space, to a wildly transformed Earth...only to discover that the human race had never truly left. Clarke found herself forced to lead…

Untouchable Trailer (Official) • A Hulu Original Documentary

The inside story of the rise and fall of Harvey Weinstein reveals how, over decades, he acquires and protects his power even as scandal threatens to engulf him. Former colleagues and accusers detail the method and consequences of his alleged abuse, hoping for justice and to inspire change. Stream Untouchable September 2 on Hulu. SUBSCRIBE…

Big Little Lies: I Want to Know (Season 2 Episode 7 Promo) | HBO

The Monterey 5 are each facing the conflicts in their lives as they brace themselves for the judge's final decision. #HBO #BigLittleLies #BLL2 Subscribe to HBO on YouTube: https://goo.gl/wtFYd7 Based on Liane Moriarty’s bestselling book, and featuring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley, Zoe Kravitz and Meryl Streep, the darkly comedic Big Little…

Los Espookys: The Craft with Julio Torres Featurette | HBO

Writer & EP Julio Torres gives us an inside scoop on what he likes most about wearing multiple hats on HBO’s Los Espookys. #HBO #LosEspookysHBO Subscribe to HBO on YouTube: https://goo.gl/wtFYd7 From the minds of Julio Torres and Ana Fabrega, alongside Fred Armisen and Lorne Michaels of Saturday Night Live, comes the Spanish-language comedy Los…

Jane The Virgin | Chapter Ninety-Eight Promo | The CW

Jane The Virgin is new Wednesdays at 9/8c on The CW, and available next day on The CW App: http://go.cwtv.com/genJTVyt SUBSCRIBE: http://go.cwtv.com/YTSubscribe About JANE THE VIRGIN: Jane Villanueva has always lived by the rules. She is studying to become a teacher, working her way through school by waitressing at a hot Miami hotel, and she…
Avatar
Sean Boelman
Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here