“The Drama Club”
Ex-Lovers, Old Grudges, and New Spouses
Joe McClean’s “The Drama Club” is the story of a formerly tight group of friends who reunite after 20 years. Old rivalries, romantic feelings and secrets come to the fore and these members of the Drama Club must come to terms with who they are as opposes to who they were. We all know that it’s never the same as it once was. People move on, change and evolve. The film involves the group trying to relive their pasts with mixed results and the strong cast makes the character’s friendship feel genuine.
The best moments are when the group is fighting within itself. They have come together because of a pact they made as teenagers. We watch as the characters rebuild their bond over shots and smoking week and try to reclaim their lost youth. There’s Elle (Liza Seneca), the promiscuous one pretty much all of them have slept with, Cory (Jon Thomas), the lovable smartass, Luke (Chris Ciccarelli), the resident selfish douchebag/bully, Hannah (Melanie Lewis), the born again shy girl with an inferiority complex, Nathan (Barry Finnegan), Luke’s former bullying victim turned muscle head, and Aaron (Dane Bowman), the mastermind behind the reunion who just so happens to be harboring a dark secret. Also there is Elle’s husband Keith (Mike Kopera), and Cory’s wife Kat (Chelsea Brandt). Keith has some insecurity about Elle’s past promiscuities, and all Kat and Cory seem to do is bicker and fight. They soon find themselves arguing over politics, sex, religion, and lifestyle choices and it is fascinating to watch the group as they process their differences now that they’re grown adults living separate lives.
There is one scene that jut might shock moviegoers. It is quite sexual and the conversation that follows is bold and incredibly progressive. It is a brave examination into the different perceptions involving gender and sexuality. The discussion is candid, honest, and shows double standards between men and women. It’s a firm stance against slut shaming and possessive relationships.
The film perfectly captures that sense of camaraderie between old friends, and the heartache that comes with growing up and potentially losing the connections that were once so special and strong. There are moments of light comedy and the ensemble cast is uniformly quite fine. The film is heartfelt, cares about its characters and the actors give it their all. Yet, it depends on whether viewers think that the characters are annoying or not, and therefore whether we feel empathy for them or not.
The film tries to explore some fairly complex ideas about middle age, and the reunion is the situation where old, more teenage patterns, behaviors and relationships re-emerge. There is then the juxtaposition between people about letting their younger selves out, but this time with the problems and experiences of older people. The film puts some effort into trying to make this work, including occasionally swapping the adult actors with their teen counterparts, but still going through the issues of their older selves.
Because everyone is forgiven for actions that sometimes edge towards being cruel, the film just did not work for me. What is supposed to be the camaraderie of old friends who don’t have the filters and self-censorship of those who don’t feel they know each other as well, actually, for me, at least, comes across as rudeness or not feeling true to how people really act.
The most dramatic part of the movie comes via a bit of bisexuality and then the revelation of why the reunion has really taken place. While what we see quite good, the aftermath is convenient and pays no attention to what has happened.
The addition of an unexpected bisexual encounter and one of the characters being gay feels almost untrue and is there as a token experience.