Dramarama (2020)

Director: Jonathan Wysocki
Writer: Jonathan Wysocki
Cast: Nick Pugliese, Anna Grace Barlow, Nico Greetham, Megan Suri, Danielle Kay, Zak Henri
Part of: Transition International Queer Minorities Film Festival
Seen on: 30.1.2022

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia

It’s 1994. Gene (Nick Pugliese) has been friends with Ally (Danielle Kay), Oscar (Nico Greetham), Rose (Anna Grace Barlow) and Claire (Megan Suri) for pretty much all of high school, brought together by their love for all things dramatic, though all in different ways. Now high school is over and everyone but Gene is preparing to leave town for college. Rose has invited them all for a Victorian Murder Mystery / farewell party and Gene is dreading it a little bit as he hopes to finally come out to the group, and is very doubtful that his Christian friends will accept it easily. But when the final clue to the mystery goes missing and pizza is delivered by older, and way cooler high school drop-out JD (Zak Henri) who stirs up some resentments within the group, things become a little more dramatic than anticipated.

Dramarama is a funny and extremely sweet film that doesn’t work like your usual coming out film – and I loved that. As I loved the entire film.

The film poster showing Oscar (Nico Greetham) dressed up as Sherlock Holmes, Claire (Megan Suri) dressed up as Alice, Rose (Anna Grace Barlow) dressed up as Miss Havisham, Ally (Danielle Kay) dressed up as Mina Harker and Gene (Nick Pugliese) dressed up as Doctor Jekyll.

I don’t know if the movie is autobiographical, but it feels anchored in reality in a way that makes me believe so. And that includes the ways it dodges the coming out clichés that we usually get in movies, and that are often comforting, but not particularly realistic. That’s not the case here. We get pure realism, albeit through a humorous lense. And that is a little bit heart-breaking. It really gets the message across how much homomisia fucks things up.

But at the same time: it’s not the end of the world. These kids have their life ahead of them, and there is a quiet confidence in the film that they will figure things out in time. Or at least some of them will. The chance is there, the world is open. It’s a beautiful and warm balance to strike.

Gene (NIck Pugliese), Claire (Megan Suri) and Ally (Danielle Kay) looking critically at something.

But first, they all have to get through a night of partying with each other like the nerds they are. And of course old and new conflicts, jealousies and loves are bound to make an appearance as their high school era comes to an end. The biggest strength of the film lies here, in the character work. They all come with their own stories and arcs. It’s easy to see why these guys are friends with each other. And it’s equally easy to see why they probably won’t be friends forever. The cast really brings them all to life. It’s just really great to watch them.

The result is a film that is so full of heart and warmth and general emotion, it’s rare to find. It is funny, but takes its characters and their hurts seriously. And I hope that Wysocki will make many more films like it in the future.

Ally (Danielle Kay) pointing the camera at Gene (Nick Pugliese) with Oscar (Nico Greetham), Rose (Anna Grace Barlow) and Claire (Megan Suri) behind her.

Summarizing: beautiful and warm.

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