Anna (Sophie Mathisen) is an Australian actor living in London. It's been a year since she split with John (Tom Wren) and she isn't landing auditions. Anna travels to Paris to the home of her best friend Jean (Jonathan Burteaux). He seems settled with his French partner Philippe (Francois Vincentelli). Anna's timing isn't great though; Philippe's mother is dying and it's taking its toll on both of them. Thankful for an excuse to escape, Jean dedicates his time and attention to Anna who is devoted to another task entirely.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Sophie Mathisen's engaging debut screenplay is brought to vibrant life by her assured direction and her star turn as Anna, the young woman who overcomes her several disappointments - about her acting career (lack of prospects), her ex that she wishes he weren't (lack of reciprocity) and even her gay best friend (lack of common sense) - by her positive, self assured personality and character. It's as much a heroine's journey as any action thriller, in this case the action taking place within the wilds of relationships and as thrilling as daily life can often be.
Acutely well observed about the human condition, Drama is both sobering and entertaining in turns, with beautifully fluid cinematography, a sparse but excellent soundtrack and refined production design.
The premise is simple but effective: wannabe actress arrives in Paris from her previous base in London, rather lost, but with a safe place to stay, her gay friend of old, Jean (Jonathan Burteaux). This is the central relationship - Anna and Jean - that the screenplay elevates as the one that both characters cherish above even their romantic ones.
Jean's lover, Philippe (Francois Vincentelli), is managing the anguish of a dying mother, but he welcomes her and their friendship provides the most support she has, given her own mother is a long way away in Australia. She is not really in Paris on a call back for a movie role, as she would like her family and friends to believe ... she is there to deliver a signed termination document for her lease. Her landlord, John (Tom Wren) was until a year ago, her partner. She hasn't found anyone else; she is lonely.
This recipe drives the drama of the film and the details Mathisen carefully includes are important. The nature of each relationship is explored with economy and authenticity, and we invest in her progress and hope for her prospects, without seeing her as a victim.
The natural performances and the pace draw us in and provide interest, and Mathisen begins and ends the film with a great sense of Anna's future - if not as an actress, certainly as a person.
Drama is a welcome addition to Australian cinema, something original yet familiar, avoiding cliche and embracing intimacy in its broadest sense.
Email this article
CAST: Sophie Mathisen, Jonathan Burteaux, Francois Vincentelli, Nicole da Silva, Tom Wren, Aisha Fabienne Ross, Margaret Mills
PRODUCER: Dominique Mathisen, Sophie Mathisen
DIRECTOR: Sophie Mathisen
SCRIPT: Sophie Mathisen
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Cameron Ford
EDITOR: Julie Ann De Ruvo, Sophie Mathisen, Cameron Ford
MUSIC: Trent & Kyle Grenell
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Eliza Sweeney, Natalie Reyes
RUNNING TIME: 94 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fan/Force
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 17, 2016; selected cinemas and $5 download iTunes and Google Play