BFI FLARE REVIEW: ‘Dramarama’ (2021) Hides Behind Melodramatics

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Dramarama would perhaps be better suited to be explored on stage, where more can be captured and enjoyed by the audience.”

Before going to college and parting their separates ways, five friends come together to attend a hyper-theatrical murder mystery party to celebrate the next chapter of their life. However, what was meant to be an evening full of fun-filled frolicking quickly turns sour as these life-long friends struggle to face reality.

Dramarama feels very much like a play, which certainly seems apt given the five leading characters’ shared love for theatre. The scenes are lengthy and charged with energy, liable to change with the flick of a switch as one person says the wrong thing, or another finds something funnier than they should. It adds a certain unpredictability to the film, especially as tensions boil further throughout the evening and these theatre kids are forced to confront the bubbling emotions that they are hiding beneath the surface. As a result, when the boundless energy finally does drop, it causes a lull and leaves you feeling a little bored as things seemingly come to a standstill.     

In saying this though, the five actors are at their best when they are together. Their endless energy is infectious, especially when they dive into their dramatic sides. All the actors let go and succumb to their characters playful sides, making the flamboyant antics a joy to watch as they allow themselves to be completely carefree in each other’s company. When they strip away their melodramatic exteriors and ground themselves in reality is where their performances begin to flourish. Whether it be an intense scene of truth or dare in a swimming pool, or uncontrollably laughing at fart jokes, the actors feel the most at ease and it is well reflected on screen. However, it is a shame that some of the moments they spend together can feel a little repetitive and sometimes irritating, which drives a wedge between the audience and the characters they want to get to know.

Along with this, one thing that really hinders the film is its use of close ups. Though not always a bad thing, especially as it gives us some insight into the intense feelings of characters such as the closeted Gene (Nick Pugliese), whose emotional conflict is a big part of the film, their overuse in group scenes really dampens the lively spirit that director Jonathan Wyscoki has tried so hard to capture in the opening portions of the film. All five characters have big and contrasting personalities, so by solely focusing on one character at a time, we lose a sense of the atmosphere that can often be grounded and solidified by background acting which is certainly a shame, as it could have given these charged group scenes an extra punch.

Overall, Dramarama is a great concept and has a lot of potential to be a compelling piece of storytelling. However, it would perhaps be better suited to be explored on stage, where more can be captured and enjoyed by the audience, and the lengthy and varied energies of the scenes can be forgiven.

Dir: Jonathan Wysocki

Wri: Jonathan Wysocki

Cast: Nick Pugliese, Megan Suri, Danielle Kay, Anna Grace Barlow, Nico Greetham, Zak Henri

Header image courtesy of BFI Flare