Rotterdam 2020 Review: DRAMA GIRL

Vincent Boy Kars' drama-docu-therapy-film entertainingly juxtaposes different truths.

Editor, Europe; Rotterdam, The Netherlands (@ardvark23)
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Rotterdam 2020 Review: DRAMA GIRL
People have been making films for well over a century already, so it's quite an achievement when you see something new being tried, without it being so radical that it makes your eyes bleed. A recent example would be One Cut of the Dead, a film which is perfectly enjoyable for the average viewer, yet does break new ground by using a simple but hugely effective idea.

While it's not quite the juggernaut crowdpleaser which One Cut is, director Vincent Boy Kars' film Drama Girl similarly works from a simple idea that has just not been used often, yet. Technically speaking it's probably a documentary, if you really must pigeonhole it, but at the same time it pleasantly toys with perception, interpretation and artifice. And while the end result may not have all that much drama-with-a-capital-D in it, the end result keeps you interested until the end credits.

iffrdramagirl.jpgAt the start of the film we meet Leyla de Muynck, a young woman who is being interviewed by director Vincent Boy Kars, while he explains the set-up of what the film will be about. He will film several key moments from Leyla's recent past, starring Leyla herself, and check with her after each scene how the re-playing of those moments affect her. So we see an acted scene, then the remarks by Leyla' and the cast. Sometimes the scene gets acted again to see if they can get closer to what actually happened, and sometimes we focus more on Leyla's reaction.

Leyla turns out to be quite a find as a subject. While what happened to her may not be all that special, her reaction to events (and indeed this re-enaction) come across as totally authentic, complete with some surprises. She is not afraid to show herself physically, yet clams shut psychologically at several specific moments. Her personality is revealed as much by what she refuses to do as by what she agrees to do, and when asked if she thinks the process is beneficial to her, her answer is both disarmingly honest and brutally sober.

It's also interesting to see the cast's reactions to the scenes, with especially the actress playing Leyla's mother obviously starting to show more and more concern for her. Several of Vincent Boy Kars' decisions here can be questioned, but the film reaches a highpoint when the director feels they all kinda flubbed the ending, and accidentally gets a much better one happening right there in front of his camera.

Part drama, part documentary, part therapy-session and part "artsy" experiment, Drama Girl never gets pretentious, disgusting or boring. It is currently in the running for the Tiger Award at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, but at the same time it has turned out to be quite the hit there, with audiences awarding it a whopping 4.5 out of 5.

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