Dramarama, a new coming-of-age dramedy from writer/director Jonathan Wysocki, is charming and cute fluff. Set in 1994, we follow Gene (Nick Pugliese), a closeted gay teen, on the night of a final murder mystery party with his closest friends. Their friendships are put to the ultimate test as secrets come to light, and college goodbyes are approaching on the horizon. The film serves as an impressive character study, a poignant examination of five friends on the brink of adulthood.
The costumes for the murder mystery party are impressive, in both simplicity and execution. I appreciated how they aimed for timeless cultural staples, like Sherlock Holmes, Alice, and Dr. Jekyll, over more obscure icons. The acting is also brazenly expressive and fun, with So You Think You Can Dance veteran Nico Greetham (Oscar) being the true standout. His vibrance, even in the more emotionally-demanding sequences, always shines through. Nick Pugliese captures a whole vibe with his layered work as the film’s lead character, Gene. The dialogue lets us get to know all these characters in a personal way and powers the low-stakes action with meaty character drama.
Seeing a teen film like this not based around technology was a refreshing approach, thanks to that 90’s setting. It doesn’t hit you over the head with time period aesthetic. A weirdly religious angle feels out of place, and I yearned to see Oscar and Gene get together. A big coming-out scene seems to be heavily hinted at, but the follow-through isn’t there. Even with a handful of flaws, I found a lot to love with Dramarama. The brilliant dashes of The Breakfast Club, and the dialogue-driven friendship dynamics, are easy reasons to recommend. Dramarama played as part of BFI Flare London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival.