The premise of Mattson’s debut could have overtaken his story, but doesn’t. The novel contains 80 film reviews written by critic Noah Body, who lives in a future where water usage is monitored and those who live in the Zone have microchips. Body’s reviews are the cynical underpinning for the novel’s primary story of his own life ... Writing reviews that no one reads of films he doesn’t respect has worn Body down to the point that making art is a matter of survival: he must make his own film. Is it enough to redeem him? Mattson’s intelligence, in the form of...observations and acrobatic language, takes the novel’s center stage.
This eccentric debut by Mattson offers a deviant take on the epistolary novel by couching its sad tale of regret in the pages of 80 movie reviews. Our esteemed author is professional nobody Noah Body, one of two film critics for a content aggregator ... Body’s world is kind of a mess after some unknown blight locals call 'the crisis,' with neighborhoods divided into safe zones and places like 'Mini Aleppo,' where Body lives; citizens 'chipped' with GPS trackers; and travel taking place by suborbital 'slingshot' capsules ... The gimmick of the novel, the 80 phantasmagoric films that Body critiques, is dryly funny, but readers may tire of Body’s deadpan, aristocratic wit despite his outlandish surroundings ... A potentially hilarious cogitation on art and artists that fails to fully exploit its comic potential.
Mattson's wordplay (Noah Body = Nobody) and low-key sarcasm are reminiscent of Vladimir Nabokov ... Like much of Nabokov's work, Mattson's novel is really about language ... Mattson also shares Nabokov's gift for precise wit ... Short Film is equally sharp about the way movie critics work ... A Short Film About Disappointment grows wearying in the second half.