Review: Drama drama (2020)


Drama drama (2020)

Directed by: Jonathan Wysocki | 91 minutes | drama, comedy | Actors: Nick Pugliese, Anna Grace Barlow, Nico Greetham, Megan Suri, Danielle Kay, Zak Henri

‘Dramarama’ is about five high school students on the last night of life as they know it until now. Escondido, California, 1994. Gene gears up for a slumber party at friend Rose’s house, and mutual friends Claire, Oscar and Ally are ready too. They do this often, but this evening is special, because tomorrow they all leave for other places in the US to study. Except Gene, who will remain in his trusted hideout for the time being. Gene plans to finally tell his girlfriend that he’s gay, but on such a night with an uninvited guest, unexpected outpourings and little cracks in friendships just find a good time!

This semi-autobiographical film by Jonathan Wysocki is strong with lovely characters (greatly dressed too, it’s a Victorian murder mystery party). And although Gene can be seen as the main character, the other four (five if you include the uninvited guest) have just as much depth. The dialogues are also nice. The common denominator of the young people is their predilection for theatre, dance and music (each of them aspires to a career in the arts) and this artistic side ensures that their conversations are pleasantly theatrical and interspersed with references to pop culture from that time ( “Twin Peaks”, “The Piano”, “The Crying Game”). They adore Stephen Sondheim, quote lustily and complement each other perfectly.

Of course everything is brewing on the surface. Almost at the beginning of the film, the uninvited guest puts the situation on edge by describing each of the friends in one word. Whether that word is right on target or not: such a judgment does something to you – especially if your friends also want to have their say. Yet they are warm friendships and although not everyone feels equally safe to do what he or she really wants, you grant each child such a group of friends, because at the core it is real friendship, who continue to support each other in every way. , difficult, change that growing up brings.

What is special about this comic drama is that the young people each have a (strictly) Catholic background. Only Gene is currently doubting his faith, leaning towards agnosticism. This results in an atypical teenage film: alcohol and sex before marriage is out of the question (although it is discussed as the film progresses and someone takes off her bikini top in the pool underwater). ‘Dramarama’ is certainly not a perfect film, but it is one that makes you care about the characters. The young, talented cast is well attuned to each other and creates a convincing group of friends. They make it a little party to watch. Wysocki may have had no films or books in his youth in which he recognized himself, a Catholic gay, who kept postponing his coming out, but for this generation and later he has at least respectfully set a benchmark for the nerdy misfits, the late bloomers and the faithful.