A Short History of Decay

September 7, 2014


A Short History of Decay shows the decay of a family, even though it cleverly aims to concentrate on the ailing aging of the protagonist’s parents. Nathan’s father has just had a stroke, compelling him to fly down to nurse him back to health, while his mother would be incapable at the task due to her moderate Alzheimer’s which is slowly erasing her personality with each passing day. How can Nathan so easily leave his life in New York City to indefinitely help his parents? Well, he is a supposed writer. At least that is what he tells everyone, despite the fact that he has not published any works yet, even though he has been at it for five years. His longtime girlfriend catches on to his game that he is perhaps in love with the idea of being a writer rather than authentically creating himself as one, and creates a tussle as he sets off to Florida, which serves as a lingering theme in the backdrop of the film.


The lingering moves in and out of the focus of the camera while Nathan cavorts with the local single women. By effectively being dumped by his NYC squeeze, suggested by the film in part because her head grew too big making herself appear to have outgrown her pretend writer boyfriend, he was a free agent and decided to play the market. His conversations with these women together with his family’s deteriorating condition are the only things that cover this canvas. Yet this basicness does not mean it is empty. For what must be realized is that Nathan himself is just as well deteriorating, even though he doesn’t realize it. He can, for instance, still pick up beautiful women while not having anything to offer other than simplistic conversation. He can’t even talk about what his written work is about. He convinces himself that he can’t speak about his life’s duty and purpose because it is uninteresting, but it is more likely the case he has no interest in actually meditating on the work, because then that would imply he was doing something other than sunbathing and worrying about cancer for the past five years.


And this awakens a very bizarre consideration for contemporary ambitious women who are frustrated with the makeup of men these days. How, in other words, is it possible that a 35 year-old who makes rent by proofreading copy, while on temporary relocation to help his parents, score dates with women who know his stay is unpredictable? Does it not concern the two women he entertains that he is a dissolving Alka-Seltzer tablet and not an implacable stone in the same glass of water? What is the motivation for these women to invest their time with someone who is going nowhere even though he enjoys pretending that he is? I suppose it is harmless fun not to care about how one spends their life. A Short History of Decay is an apt title then.


Grade: B+



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