Jonathan Wysocki’s Dramarama follows five high school pals and drama fanatics on a murder-mystery themed sleepover in suburban America. It’s set in 1994, the day before Rose (the first of the group to leave for college) is to depart for New York. The work opens with Gene – the only chum staying in their hometown for college – practicing coming out to his friends. This is a prospect that obviously has a profound effect on him, as his nerves are palpable through the screen. The crew is made up of JD (the seemingly cool older dropout who delivers their pizzas), Gene (clandestine), Rose (callow), Claire (purintaical) Oscar (grandiloquent) and Ali (beguiling)
Cracks quickly begin to show between the seemingly tight-knit clan. All of the buddies except Gene are highly religious and conservative, intimating their disapproval of concepts such as abortion, homosexuality and atheism. He expresses his subversion to faith much to the disgust of his friends, only isolating himself further from them. Tensions continue to boil both in the group as a whole as well as between individuals, with jealousy, bitterness and conflict of opinions testing friendships before they all part ways.
This movie succeeds in offering an alternative viewpoint of the young experience. Teen flicks in the past few years often drive an exceptionally political and modern agenda. Films with conservative teenagers at the centre of the narrative instead of as the judgemental antagonist are hard to come by. The pals – instead of drinking, smoking weed and having sex – enjoy reenacting theatrical scenes, eating cheese balls, making fart jokes and sleeping all in the one room.
However, Dramarama ultimately fails in its implementation of any heart, message or empathy for its central figures. The incessant breaking into theatrical roles and cracking of inside jokes that are too abstract for the audience to understand only widens the gap between the characters and the viewer. These personas feel like projections of what the writers wished teenagers were like. That the cool, sexy dropout guy used words such as “grandiloquent” and said lines like “So we don’t sound Orwellian”. Although this touches on a true point that when one is eighteen they think everything that comes out of their mouth needs to be uber intelligent, the movie focuses too much on the talent of its young actors and their obsession with theatre rather than nurturing any actual character development.
Despite this being a decent attempt at altering the coming-of-age film, the result is ultimately premature, superficial and uneven.
Dramarama does not have a UK release date yet.
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Watch the trailer for Dramarama here: