Madeleine Zabel (2011) – By James Dubbeldam

Madeleine Zabel is a 17 minute short film written and directed by Chris Shimojima about Maddy Z (played by Jenna D’Angelo), a Paris Hilton type heiress, who’s been interviewed by a freelance reporter (played by Chris Henry Coffey) over the phone.

A sex tape has been leaked with Maddy Z and her sister’s ex, stirring up all sorts of controversy that her publicist (played by Kelly Walters) wants to smooth out.  But as Elliot Snow (the reporter) begins to dig into Maddy’s life while he deals with personal issues at the same time, it becomes obvious that things are not what they seem…

The film starts off with a fast pace of news footage about Maddy Z and her dealings with the paparazzi so convincing it feels like you are watching a celebrity gossip TV show. It’s the perfect beginning to the film in length and feel. When the reporter Elliot is introduced dealing with personal issues over the phone right before his interview, it becomes clear that this film is going to be tense. Which it is.

The cutting back and forth between them is incredibly well done using excellent sound design and pacing. Not a second or word is wasted, it all serves an ultimate point. The acting is incredible, completely believable and raw while the dialogue is strong and consistent. The tension is maintained as Elliot is plagued by texts and calls he urgently wants to answer and ultimately distracts him from his conversation, until he again and again re-gains his composure and hits his interviewee with questions so hard she’s thrown for a loop. The conversation is so intimate between these two strangers it’s easy for her to slip, that is if there is something that she is not being honest about….

The music is excellent and well-suited to the mood, but unfortunately a little loud here and there. But other then that and a lack of wide angles and setting up the locations, I couldn’t find any issues with this film. And that is rare and an achievement right there.

When the film becomes emotional you realize that Mr. Shimojima is playing all the right strings. And doing so very well!

Overall this short film is very good. It’s simple yet sophisticated, tense and emotional. All while being well shot and professional. Definitely check it out.