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BFI Flare 2021: Dramarama

a teenage girl in a red dress is standing to the left, a fridge behind her; another teenage girl dressed as Alice in Wonderland is shocked t her right; a teenage boy with a suit is to her right; and on the far right is a teenage boy dressed as Sherlock Holmes
Image Courtesy of The Queer Review

It’s 1994 and a group of teens, held together by their shared christianity and love of the theatrics, navigate their final night together before leaving for college. Framed within one single location, Rose’s (Anna Grace Barlow) parents house, they partake in one last murder mystery party. 

As the film unfolds, secrets are revealed and the agreed idea of themselves according to the group and as individuals shifts into something entirely different. Dreams become tarnished by the harsh light of reality as adulthood comes ever closer and they all battle personal afflictions, having to decide whether telling the truth is actually always worth it, or if it is better to leave things unsaid. 

The ensemble cast are audacious in their ambition but sometimes clunky in their delivery. Moments that are striving for authentic humour can come across as contrived, or slightly cheesy but it is nonetheless an enjoyable watch and shows extreme promise from the Writer/Director Jonathan Wysocki. All six of the cast show promise at sporadic points throughout the film and despite the script not always working for them, they appear to stay true to their characters throughout. 

Dramarama manages to capture that awful stage of adolescence where friends can be controlled or torn apart by the judgement of a ‘cooler’ friend, but it reminds us that bonds between friends like these will ultimately always be remembered as strong, even if they end up fading over time. The film was layered with some truly beautiful moments, with equally sensitive portrayals. 

Ultimately, this film is a soothing watch that will remind you why you would never want to go back to school, however much we may romanticise it, there is a lot to be said for feeling more comfortable in your skin, and feeling freer to express who you truly are. Any reservations with the film were completely eliminated by the end. This is a heartwarming and truly beautiful telling of a story that has only one message: it may not be ok now but it will be ok soon. At the start of the film, Gene (Nick Pugliese) had tasked himself with the challenge of coming out to his friends, whether or not this is achieved becomes irrelevant, the director instead choosing to remind us that acceptance can be found in many places. What a truly beautiful note for him to choose to end the film on. 

The 35th BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival ran from Wednesday 17th March to Sunday 28th March 2021, find out more here.