Short Film Review – Madeleine Zabel

Dir/Prod/Scr: Chris Shimojima

Starring: Jenna D’Angelo, Chris Henry Coffey, Kelly Walters

In recent years TV land has seen a resurgence in shows that take a look at the rich and powerful… and sexy. Dynasty and Dallas seem like chicken feed compared to the hedonism on show from the ten a penny American dramas which I churned out series after series. We’re now in a mire of “reality” shows that show us the wealthy… and sexy. It’s certainly nothing new in the world of media to be obsessed with celebrity, no matter how minor, but it seems that we can not escape it no matter where we turn our heads.
That is why it’s refreshing to find a film like Madeleine Zabel. Zabel is a 22 year old, heiress to a billion dollar fortune who is trying every avenue to get her face in the global media. As we come into her story a sex tape of her and her sister’s ex has been released. Sound familiar?

Essentially a dual-logue between Zabel – played by Jenna D’Angelo – and Elliott Snow – played by Chris Henry Coffey, the film takes place almost entirely over the phone. Usually a story telling technique reserved for exposition or general tedium Shimojina the writer keeps things constantly compelling by mixing a ticking clock element into the puff-piece interview. The journalist Elliott is in the middle of a heated argument with his girlfriend – should he call her and save the relationship or should he continue with the fatuous interview which will further his career. It’s a terrific sub-plot which manages to both heighten the films drama and develop Elliot’s character, something which is often missing in short films.

The entire film is crafted with an ingenuity which raises the film above mere satire on celebrity culture. Jenna D’Angelo is appropriately bitchy whilst underpinning Zabel with desperation, someone so desperate for recognition she half-heartedly throws her name behind any endeavour. She’s a believable character. Believable because she is the mirror of so many celebrities from both sides of the Atlantic.

Shimojima the director keeps things constantly moving. The camera creeps and lunges through scenes with a voyeuristic charm. We feel as though we could be one of Zabel’s assistants listening in on the conversation. Taking place on two sets the film could feel stage bound but Shimojima makes every use of the small apartment spaces. His camera is almost Michael Bay-esque in it’s constant movement. I mean that as I compliment, I swear I do.

Strong central performances, a punchy script and a visual flare make Madeleine Zabel a film that deserves ten minutes from your day.

See it here

© BRWC 2010.

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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.

  • Static_OmegaFPL 20th July 2011

    Yo, Blitzwing, this gave me a thought… Since we seem to have similar taste in movies and what not I figured I’d ask if you might want to review a short I did ages ago? As a sort of BRWC Cross Pollenation as it were. I dunno if you’ll see this or not, couldnt figure out how to send a message to you. Haha.

  • Anonymous 21st July 2011


  • Anonymous 25th July 2011

    Thanks…. great stuff!

  • Anonymous 26th July 2011

    Promising film.


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