As always, a decision on a whim turned to be among the best I have ever made. You can plan and schedule, yet unexpected things happen. Such is life. And the movie Imaginur is a tiny, tiny fragment of a life amongst lives.
(NOT a spoiler-free spilt ramble here, so consider yourself warned. Again, a spoiler-y gushing going on below. Please, go watch this if you haven’t already, now showing in cinemas in Malaysia)
“Do we exist only because others can see us? If we live by ourselves, we don’t exist?”—Zuhal, IMAGINUR
We are introduced to Zuhal. Yes, like that planet Saturn. And this guy definitely has some things going on: his faltering father, his demanding job, his pounding head and his crumbling self. He flicks out and in of his life, as if he is daydreaming throughout the day. Realizing that he needs help, he does go to seek help, but not from a doctor; he approaches an institution with a sketchy (witch?) doctor, claiming that he fixes things inside the head. Heck, Zuhal feels like he is being scammed, but he decides to try. Who knows, it might give him a break, or even freedom, from his trauma of breaking off his engagement with his past beau Yazmin, who already moves on with someone else.
Zuhal finds his ‘break’ in the form of someone he ‘sees’ during the session, who turns out to be a real lady: Nur. The attraction is real, and it is more than love at first sight. Heck, what they have over such a short time spending time together puts ‘love at first sight’ to shame. But then, Nur is leaving, and Zuhal is not in his right time (or mind) to divide his attention to too many things at once. As if life is not fragile enough, his father took a turn for the worse in between his ‘flicks’, even when Zuhal already feels that he has not done enough for his father.
His father left, but not before giving him words of wisdom. Zuhal is in a trance, after facing one revelation after another: he turns out to be a subject of the sketchy doctor’s experiment of swapping his ‘brain waves’ with an old man, and his sister Isma has a visiting friend offering condolences, who turns out to be Nur…who turns out to be his wife. Crazy, how life throws lemons and bananas at you sometimes, right?
Zuhal struggles to grapple with reality, or more like his reality. He knows he needs help and brings Nur to show her the wacky institution that has been messing with his brain, but it was gone. No Hypnotica, no Dr. Ramli, no Saturn ring on his head. Nothing. Same goes to a big chunk of his memory with Nur.
Nur wants to help him going through all of this, but Zuhal decides to block her. She is devastated and makes the decision to leave. Zuhal wants to stop her from doing so, but it triggers something: a loop of endless events, even featuring his dead father. The old lady who introduces him to the institution judges him silently in the loop. Yeah, that lady is indeed in cahoot with the doctor who is losing some screws in his head. The events repeat themselves but Zuhal cannot seem to stop Nur from leaving every single time. Slowly, it becomes clear that his reality is not the reality.
Zuhal is not the one who brings his father to the hospital for consultation, but it is him who is brought to the hospital for consultation by the older Nur, who stays beside him. He is already an old man struggling with Alzheimer’s just like his father, just like what he was afraid of when he was younger. Nur is faithful and hopeful that a hypnotherapy conducted by a legit doctor named Ramli will help Zuhal wake up from his trance.
But then, the older lady who is thought to be Nur is not her. That is Isma, and Nur has passed away. Nur’s passing probably triggers a trauma that Zuhal has kept hidden deep inside his head: the death of his father. Now, Zuhal himself seems to be standing on the brink. Will he stay in the happy place he chances upon, together with the fragment of Nur in his memory?
Sometimes, life can be repetitive. Or demanding. Or frustrating. Or tiring. Or it is just everything lumped into one big ball of uncertainties we are forced to face every single day. It feels like an endless loop we cannot escape from. To make matters worse, the bad decisions we have made from time to time haunts us. Was it that bad, the life we have lived? One might wonder. Or maybe, we just need someone to tell us that we have done enough.
“You did enough.”
“You did well.”
“You are not responsible for everything that the Universe has thrown at you.”
“You deserve to be happy.”
“Regret shouldn’t last forever. Move on. It’s not that you are abandoning the mistake, but you learn and build a happier future for you. No one deserves to be guilt-ridden forever.”
What if happiness seems like a far-fetched idea? You seek it and embrace it, no matter in what form it comes. For Zuhal, it is Nur and everything about her. He is lucky to have found his happy place.
And folks, it is time for us to wake up and get out of Zuhal’s head.
And find our own happiness.