While the in-person portion of the Oxford Film Festival is over the online still continues throughout the entire month of April. One of the films being shown during this time is Dramarama, which won the Ronzo for Best LGBTQIA+ Feature. Here is our review for it:
With a catchy title like Dramarama, director/writer Jonathan Wysocki’s first feature length film, does not let the viewer down after reading it. Meaning the film, while suffering from the usual woes which small budget films tend to, is a thoroughly entertaining one. Quirky from stern to bow, it is filled with teenager issues, laughs, snappy dialogue, and touching dashes of emotion.
Being a gay teenage guy in 1994 usually resulted in being closeted. Such is the case with Gene (Nick Pugliese – from television’s 13 Reasons Why). Even his closest friends do not know. It is now his last chance to tell them before they all head off in different directions.
Five teenage friends are high school seniors on the verge of going off to college. They are going to have their last murder mystery night and Gene is contemplating tell his friends he is gay. Understandably he is nervous as he is not sure how they, his Christian friends, will accept the news.
Rose (Anna Grace Barlow – appeared in episodes of The Goldbergs and Supernatural) is hosting the murder mystery night which features a literature theme. All five are dressed up like well known characters from famous novels. Gene, Oscar (Nico Greetham – The Prom), Claire (Megan Suri – Valentine’s Day), and Ally (Danielle Kay – from television’s Artificial) and are going to try to solve the mystery Rose has set up.
A wrench is thrown into their plans when a clue goes missing and the pizza they ordered is delivered by JD (Zak Henri – from television’s Awkward.). Tension rises between the longtime friends and rifts seem to grow. This is definitely not how they wanted to end things.
Sexuality and religion has always been an interesting mix. Religions do not tend to be very open when it comes to homosexuality. Not accepting. Seeing it as a sin. This led to many young people remaining in the closet or leading lives which were not true to who they really are. This coming of age, push and pull kind of story is told in a way which does not judge anyone.
Interestingly it depicts a group of teenagers who, instead of rushing head first into change and adulthood, seem nervous about the change. Rather, they almost seem to want to stay where they are in some sort of suspended animation. There are people like that and they are an underrepresented population.
Though the teens here are not from a huge pool (drama kids are not that numerous) the story is still a relatable one. That is because all of us are familiar with fear. Fear of the kind which makes us nervous about change or moving forward. It runs throughout all the young characters here, all of a different variety, so while watching you will be able to understand one type or another. Life changes are hard, even scary. We all are hesitant, wanting to stay where we are “safe”, so it is helpful to have friends to help out along the way.