No doubt, you can change your present – but getting away from your past can still have lingering problems. This, especially, when your former deeds lay in the murky underworld where life intersects with crime, politics and power. Tony (Robert Lee Brown) is the man caught in the crossfire, and the same will go for you when the credits roll on William P Cook’s The Tragedy of Senator Abe Froeman.
The 17 minute short, which was written by Brown, Cook and David Huber, lets us in on the events through a news report. Taking place at the school where Tony’s son attends, Brown exudes a resigned cool on the outside that simply takes in the current facts.
An operative of some sort in the past, Brown plays the part perfectly by staying rationally in the moment and offers few words to tip his hand. Still, the actor has a pretty good dichotomy going. The volcano that is ready to erupt can be read in the subtext of Brown’s face and is bolstered by his ability to draw a learned conclusion.
Alongside a score (Kyle Piety and Arthur Sears) that seems to encircle Brown, the viewer concurs. But the power of the actor’s screen presence screams resolve, and if the son has fallen, it’s the opposing forces that will soon feel cornered.
No matter the outcome, Brown’s professionalism takes precedence. So the bubbling magma turns dormant, because Tony has not forgotten how to ride the bicycle of his previous life. As a result, he knows only a carefully calculated slow burn will yield the response required.
The point is proven with the first act of the impacted father. He prepares himself lunch, which may seem like an odd choice for a determined predator and the filmmaker. But an empty stomach helps no one’s thought process, and Tony’s adherence to a detail such as this reveals a professional who goes one step at a time.
The tomatoes chopped, the spices sprinkled and his vegetables washed, the diligence is on full display, and we know the same applies to his craft. A shift in score resulting, Tony follows suit. More methodical and like a wide web is being cast, the beat signals that Tony is now on offense.
Thus the stakes set, the rules of The Most Dangerous Game still apply, and feeling the urgency, we get a closer look at the object of Tony’s ire Drake (Antonio J Medina) executed the high profile hit in question, and no doubt Medina also emotes the prerequisite amount of calm.
Still, he doesn’t rise to Tony’s level – especially after he learns there might be collateral damage. A muffled concern on the actor’s face is more than Tony would ever reveal, and his sustenance of choice is not a good meal. A half fill, open bottle of whiskey is already in play, and after a momentary pause, Drake can’t help but indulge.
Nonetheless, Drake has enough composure to accept the situation and resigns himself to the new complexities faced. Going into gear, Drake’s preparation also differs.
The perfect execution on the pull-up bar doesn’t just reveal a muscular body. He hedges more toward brute force, and a clear delineation is established between the combatants. The editing of Cook then seamlessly switches back and forth between the differing regimens, and previews the showdown to come.
Leaving us on edge, the convergence is inevitable. But larger forces are at play, and Tony should have known better. After all, he is part of the same covert infrastructure, and despite his efforts to separate, the order was always a pretty tall one.
Unfortunately, a short film does not necessarily provide for a full unraveling. But if the filmmakers have more in mind, the groundwork has been laid expertly. And if they don’t follow, The Tragedy of Senator Abe Froeman provides a blueprint for any filmmaker who’s looking to set up a thrilling drama of intrigue, deceit and betrayal.