Eusebio Arenas, Benjamin Vicuña and Fernanda Urrejola in "Drama"
Dir: Matias Lira
Spanish [with English subtitles]
When a 90-minute movie feels like 180, when cocaine use gets comical, and a lead actress suddenly kills herself for no reason (spoiler alert!), blame Chile. The location and ethnicity of the films director Matias Lira play strongly into the overdramatic gesticulations of the eager cast and heady subject matter as a Chilean tragedy unfolds. It is based on real over-eager actors in a theater class and the main story line—of an “unresolved from the past” disappeared mother—apparently ripped from Chile’s headlines, as Lira recounted in the post-screening Q&A. This stoped a regularly critical, “lack of realism” declaration that might be used to characterize this film with, stopped it a little, at least. Abundant Romeo y Juliet metaphors, “perils of homosexuality”, and the art of theater exercises as subject matter are reason enough to dislike this movie—but it’s not all bad. The editing, composure and light are gritty, real, well done and laudable. And as much as I’m inspired to disregard this film, I can’t. I reminded myself throughout that it was called “Drama” for a reason and that maybe people in Chile really are prone to sudden/unmotivated suicide or drawing graffiti on walls with their own blood. It excels when viewed as an extended Latin soap with high-production values. Perhaps I romanticize the locale and the luscious accents too much, perhaps I give the actors more credit than they deserve (having participated in one too many bogus theater “exercises” myself) but this movie is good on its own terms—as art. Regardless, prepare yourself for camp before watching this movie. Remember, the play’s the thing.