A SHORT HISTORY OF DECAY, written and directed by first-timer Michael Maren, is a beautifully rendered piece of Americana as it exists today, mid economic (and most every other kind of) decline. And yet this movie is not actually depressing. Oddly enough, it is simply too plain and too real for that. It accepts what is and must be (even if its characters have some difficulty doing so) and therefore liberates us, the audience, to look upon reality and understand it.
Bryan Greenberg, above), less a failed writer than one who has simply never finished anything, begins a morning dispute with his significant other, Erika (Emmanuelle Chriqui, below), a high-powered woman with a first novel about be published. How this scene ends is both funny and surprising.
Linda Lavin, below, right), dad (Harris Yulin, below, left) and -- eventually -- older brother (Benjamin King), where, of course, family history, along with past and present problems bubble up and spill over. Aging, Alzheimer's, stroke, money problems, love and lust jockey for position, but Maren never lets any one thing take the lead for long. He juggles character and events with consummate skill, balancing the comedy of life with its inevitable tragedy -- and shows us a lot of the interesting moments in between.
Kathleen Rose Perkins (below) as mom's manicurist; a hot, svelte Rebecca Dayan as the young lady Nathan meets at a local bar/restaurant; and Barbara Weetman as the smart, if slightly pushy bartender.
Paladin and running a just-about perfect-for-its-content 93 minutes -- arrives in theaters this Friday, May 16. In New York City look for it at the Village East Cinema, and elsewhere soon, I hope.