Review by Mark Schwab
December 21st, 2017
I'll admit that dreams can be dangerous sometimes. Especially when it comes to trying to make an income from art - whether it be acting, writing, painting sculpting or filmmaking I think only the most deluded among us won't admit that most who attempt it are in for a Sisyphean experience. Director/Co-star Zayn Alexander and Screenwriter/Co-star Pascale Seigneurie's 9-minute short film ABROAD adds a surprising amount of layers to that basic situation making it a bit more effective than most.
Alexander and Seigneurie play the attractive young Lebanese millennial couple Jad and Rania - two dreamers trying to make it as actors in New York (and eventually Hollywood) while making ends meet at "regular" jobs. Far away from their native land as well as their families, Jad and Rania seem happy and committed to each other (they are even engaged to be married) - they have their shared heritage and acting passions in common which is a lot more than most couples can bank on right? But financial tensions lurking beneath their idealism begin to surface and threaten their impending marriage.
Those tensions are related to what John Malkovich famously said about artists trying to make it in New York;
"To have starving actors, you have to have a place for them to starve. New York is too expensive for that. You can't afford to starve there anymore."
And that was back in the 1980's. Would anyone try to argue against Malkovich's statement pretty much applying to any American city in regards to artists trying to "make it".
In that context, I feel ABROAD raises some bigger questions in regards to our current Millennial generation. For all the talk about hip and cool and tech and social media and everyone having the chance to create their own "brand"...is the old chestnut of the white picket fence and the wife in the kitchen and the 2.3 children and the dog still beckon as the ideal? Is it baked into our DNA more than we'd like to admit?
Now obviously ABROAD can't delve too deeply into this sociological maze with only 9 minutes (and I do think a longer running time would help this film a bit) but it certainly hints at deeper questions that intrigued this viewer. ABROAD gives proof to the point that when you start with a solid screenplay and cast two fine actors who can carry it off, the audience is bound to follow.