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The Tragedy of Senator Abe Froeman

average rating is 3 out of 5


James Learoyd


Posted on:

Feb 29, 2024

Film Reviews
The Tragedy of Senator Abe Froeman
Directed by:
William Cook
Written by:
William Cook, Robert Lee Brown
Robert Lee Brown, Antonio J. Medina, Ashley Beloat

The Tragedy of Senator Abe Froeman is a 17-minute thriller about a father out for revenge following the killing of his child. Through the perspectives of multiple characters on different sides of the story, we witness the fallout of an assassination gone wrong.


So, here’s the main problem: it’s not completely coherent, narratively speaking. Our characters’ motivations and dynamics are made clear too late in the story, leaving us to reassess previously confusing lines of dialogue while the plot progresses in front of us in a manner that could be labeled as slightly artificial. Though the intensity and stakes of the conflict towards the end of the short work at a higher level; more exciting and dynamic in its attempt to build suspense.


Upon considering the formal aspects of the piece, we get some quite exciting, dynamic camerawork. One must admire the strong variation of shot-types at play - an underappreciated factor of cinematography / direction - and surprisingly, some of the best shots come in the form of a drone (one of the earliest wide shots of the expansive desert is simply incredible, coloured with a smooth teal and orange palette). There are some garish aesthetic choices, the occasional jitter and some of what we’re watching looks a little flat, yet for the most part it’s nice work; clearly thought through with care.


Audio is an incredibly challenging element of filmmaking to get right, and a lot of the short sounds great. You can also tell that a great deal of time has been spent in post-production considering the audio, which is an important thing. However, I’m sorry to say that its imperfections often stand out. Were the movie of a different genre or tone say, this may not matter quite as much, but the dubbing is frequently distracting as is the fading in and out of certain sounds in the mix -- though this is more a minor, technical note.


There’s a lot of dark subject-matter in this film – specifically in its reference to shootings and the death of a child. In my mind, this becomes a prevalent issue: purely since it’s handled less as a theme for deeper discussion, and more as a device or surface-level concept on which to build an ‘exciting’ narrative. One also wonders whether the picture is in fact attempting to say something regarding violence of this sort, but if it is... it doesn’t translate. On the other hand, the title – drawing attention to the ‘Tragedy’ idea – perhaps suggests that what we’re viewing is a cautionary tale of sorts; but it gets far too wound up in its own workings to illustrate such a theme.


It’s a story that is at odds with its own content. In fact, one suspects that had it consisted of a cleaner, sparser concept, the filmmakers would have a better chance at exploring the action-suspense genre workings they clearly wish to; less bogged down by challenging tonal, character shifts. With some fantastic shots, original ideas, and attention to craft, it’s unfortunate that a clear or emotionally resonant story is unable to shine through. When it comes to low-budget filmmaking, sometimes you must understand your limitations – technically and practically – and from that kind of process, a fun and intelligent piece can reveal itself... and I believe one could find such a film in the bones of The Tragedy of Senator Abe Froeman.

About the Film Critic
James Learoyd
James Learoyd
Short Film
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