“My Drywall Cocoon”

“My Drywall Cocoon” is an existential murder mystery that explores teen culture within the confines of affluent society. With heavy themes of emotional pain, depression, sex, violence, and grief, writer-director Caroline Fioratti‘s strong storytelling and keen sense of understanding for her topical subject matter make this film a compelling (if sometimes uncomfortable and unpleasant) viewing experience.

Patricia (Maria Luisa Mendonca) is a very overprotective mom. She’s always inserting herself in unwelcome ways into her daughter Virginia’s (Bella Piero) life, butting in when all she really needs to do is keep her space. Mother and daughter love each other and have a close-knit relationship that seems nice on the surface, but they begin to butt heads on the eve of Virginia’s 17th birthday. Mom reluctantly agrees to let her daughter throw a big party in their luxury penthouse, and a high-flying evening of booze and pills results in the most unthinkable tragedy: the next morning, Virginia is found dead. Nobody seems to know what happened when or why, and the grief from losing her only daughter is enough to drive Patricia to the brink of insanity. It’s the secrets people keep that are harming everyone.

The film jumps around with its timeline, but it’s always easy to keep up. Fioratti’s storytelling structure is unusually well done and laid out, as she sets up the tragedy and unravels the mystery in a way that is designed to keep viewers on their toes. She has a directorial style that is well-suited to her narrative, with tight shots that give a steady sense of claustrophobia and entrapment. This is a great looking movie, with a rich color palate and sophisticated aesthetic.

The character development feels hollow, from the stereotypical awful friends who are only looking out for their own best interests to the idea of the clichéd, depressed teenager who is crying out for help but mostly keeps it all buried inside. These are real life problems of course, but a story about rich kids behaving badly is a timeworn idea that squeezes most of the life out of the characters. Thankfully the cast is terrific, especially Mendonca as a grief-stricken mother who is overwhelmed by mental anguish.

There are several parts of the film that play out with an arduous intensity, including a distressing scene that features a firearm used in an erotic manner. It’s unsettling, but there’s a lot of challenging content in this provocative movie.

While it can be overly melodramatic, “My Drywall Cocoon” is certainly memorable. The keen sense of style, skilled direction, and strong performances from the cast give the film a confident, assured feel.

By: Louisa Moore

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