FILM INFO: Jad and Rania, a Lebanese couple living in New York City, struggle to achieve their shared dream of breaking into the acting industry due, in part, to the typecasting of Middle-Eastern actors.
WRITTEN BY: Pascale Seigneurie DIRECTED BY: Zayn Alexander GENRE: Drama TIME: 9 minutes.
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Abroad ( 2017 )
Feature Film Review
The heart of "Abroad" revolves around actors and the film industry in general. Stereotyping is a real thing for anyone not Caucasian in appearance. With all the recent scandals surfacing within the film industry, this particular issue has been ongoing since the early start of the movie industry. Are you making a martial arts film? Better get someone from China or Japan. See my point? However, "Abroad" is not just a short film about the typecasting of Middle Eastern actors. It also has it's roots in general racism, although slightly veiled. The "film industry" may be the catalyst for this particular film, but the real points of interest are the lives of this couple beyond the small roles auditioned for. We do have blatant references in the movie, solidly cementing the stereotyping taking place - and race related decision making. Dialog such as, the only roles for our protagonists are terrorist hijabis, or the only parts available for woman are if their face is covered, do rear their ugly heads in this movie. Making things feel quite clear and true to life, easily making anyone who actually considers what's said, feel ill and broken. But... there is so much more to this short film. Perhaps what makes "Abroad" so interesting, are the layers contained within the writing. Pascale Seigneurie, who penned this film, made sure to add in the smaller things in life. Things that tend to escalate into bigger problems. The obvious aside, "Abroad" also lets us viewers see the struggles almost any of us can relate with. Family issues, mainly dealing with parental hopes and dreams. Working in that dead end job waiting for your dreams to come true. Hell, even the differences between two people who love each other. How does one deal? This is all good, straight up "life" stuff presented here. Done with a real eye for detail. It's not a stretch to completely disregard the "typecasting" aspect of this short film, and simply call it a drama about life in general. Saying that "Abroad" has crammed a lot into under nine minutes is an understatement. If anyone felt so inclined... it's not hard to imagine a few hours of deep conversation stemming from the content of this short film. Not hard to imagine at all. Technically, "Abroad" flows from start to finish rather nicely. The direction from Zayn Alexander has combined with the talent from the cast to form a believable, cohesive environment for the film to exist within. Although a bit of "shaky" hand-held styled camera work exists, a trend nobody likes anymore, it's done well enough that it doesn't actually look bad when watching. The portrayals of Jad and Rania come across as true and real. There was never a moment when I regarded these two as actors... except during the "audition" segments. The one element I wasn't really big on was the wrap-around story arc. I did like that this title essentially started the same as it finished... but didn't like the lack of resolution to the story. It was almost as if this were an extended trailer, to a larger film. I honestly believe a good movie needs a start, a middle and a resolution. Even when telling micro stories. "Abroad" doesn't have that. This title introduces a problem - and leaves it unsolved. A person "could" argue that the ending was the resolution. That Rania's final scene was, in fact, the choice she would make. It's hazy and uncertain however, as I wrote above, this just felt like the introduction to a larger piece. When it's all said and done, this was a really good dramatic short. Not only was it entertaining, watching these two people in their uncertain moments, this was also a great way to shed some light on an ongoing real-life situation. The point of any movie is to provide entertainment to the viewer. In this respect, "Abroad" pulls aces and easily does the trick. An above average and solid three and a half stars. Great job guys.