Indie Watch: The Decelerators

Posted by Sean Fitzpatrick November 3, 2013 0 Comment 5164 views

Being able to stop the flow of time is a superhuman feat that becomes increasingly more desirable as we get older. Somewhere between the ages of 20 and 25, we generally become nostalgic and begin to wish for the simple, sunny salad days of our respective youths – in short, that time when we wanted to get older, when the future seemed limitless and far away. This desire to stop time often manifests itself in endless nostalgia (any number of Buzzfeed, Gawker, or Cracked pages would suffice as examples), attempts to relive old memories, and/or fighting physical deterioration with an overwhelming amount of esthetic treatments and exercise. In the case of the characters of Montreal-based director Mark Slutsky’s new short film, The Decelerators, this desire produces a machine that literally stops time.

With an atmosphere that’s similar to both Miranda July’s The Future and Shane Carruth’s Primer, The Decelerators follows a group of unnamed adults in the late-twenties and early-thirties as they attempt to stop time’s endless progression. Instead of engaging in normal nostalgic activities like watching favorite Disney movies while eating an entire box of Joe Louis, this urban tribe more actively protests against chronology by ingesting and inhaling a smorgasbord of drugs, experimenting with their sexualities, bringing themselves to the point of death, and meditating. When their mystical and psychadelic attempts to stop time fail, they resort to inventing a machine called a Decelerator. With their Decelerators, the characters can stop time at the one moment when they feel most content – the one moment that they wish could last forever – and remain there in perpetuity. This device, however, is not as perfect as it seems.

Told entirely in voiceover by various members of The Decelerators cast, the film unfolds in a dreamlike manner, raising important existential questions about what it means to grow old and experience the emotional, physical, and social losses associated with maturity and experience. The dull hues and night-time shadows in the film’s cinematography enhance this feeling of young-adult angst. The inevitability of loss is palpable in the film, giving it a mournful emotional core that carries its story to its crushing conclusion.

Presenting a flipside to the ideas in Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, The Decelerators creates its own mechanical Madeleine to examine how acutely today’s twenty- and thirty-somethings feel the passage of time. We are reminded of getting older at every turn, with incessant lists about “How You Know You Grew Up in the 90s” or how “This [insert fad/movie/TV Show here] Was 20 Years Ago.” The internet has become a database of time-stamped artifacts of days gone by – a constantly-ticking clock that reminds us of how old we are. The desire to stop time is universally human, but is treated in society as a vane reaction to age. Mark Slutsky’s The Decelerators gives that anxiety some much needed humanity.

Images from The Decelerators

About Sean Fitzpatrick

Freelance film critic and avid fan of music, books, and movies. Learned the mercantile trade from my father and uncle, Niccolo and Maffeo, and met Kublai Khan.

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