Madeleine Zabel is a dramatic glimpse behind the bullshit curtain drawn between celebrities and those forced to cover their every move for a public addicted to the misfortunes of the rich and popular. Chris Shimojima’s short film gives us a humanizing look at the two extremes in a psychological cat-and-mouse game where the participants keep changing roles.
Maddy Zabel (Jenna D’Angelo) is a socialite known more for her unruly behavior and leaked sex tape (with her sister’s ex) and Elliot (Chris Henry Coffey) is the reporter who has been assigned to interview her over the phone. Zabel is more interested in promoting her new endeavors and Elliot is more interested in getting some good dirt. Well, except he’s not really all THAT interested, as his personal life is going to shit while he’s mid-interview, and the faux-civility Elliot and Maddy exchange turns into a more subdued hostility as the two give and take to their own benefit.
The performances in this short are what really knock it to the top of the pile. Elliot’s hostility and disdain cannot be too overt, so as to not lose the interview and, likewise, Maddy cannot be too dismissive lest she lose what could be a positive spin on her currently negative public image. It’s all there between the words, in the dead spaces in the phone conversation. It would be easy to go melodramatic and really chew some scenery with this one, but the reality is in the subtlety of the battle.
Madeleine Zabel simmers with strong performances without ever boiling over, and it’s a small moment in what could otherwise be a much larger cinematic tale about celebrity gone awry. Worth your time and I’m looking forward to what filmmaker Shimojima comes up with next.
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