SXSW 2023: Teens Behaving Badly And The Subsequent Loss In ‘My Drywall Cocoon’

by Gary Catig

My Drywall Cocoon is the only Brazilian production entry to SXSW 2023. It is written and directed by filmmaker Caroline Fioratti. She has already made a name for herself in her native country and hopes the feature can launch an international career.

The story is Fioratti’s most personal one yet. An affluent young teen, Virginia, celebrates her 17th birthday party in her parents’ penthouse condominium. Tragedy strikes the next morning when the celebrant is found dead. Virginia’s family and closest friends must process their loss while also trying to piece together what really occurred the previous night.

Maybe it’s because of movies like Kids or television series such as Euphoria, but the young dramas filled with prevalent drug use and sex are losing their edge. These youths behaving badly is supposed to both expose the darker private side of the ultra rich and show the excess of the other half. The scenes accomplish that, but there is no real reaction to it.

There is better execution surrounding the mystery behind Virginia’s death. It’s interesting to watch it all unfold, but what’s more appealing is seeing the impact the loss has on the other main characters. Each has their own baggage and the passing of Virginia leads them to reassess their lives.

From a technical standpoint, Fioratti knows how to frame her scenes. There is an artistic beauty behind the party scenes and the lighting and shading provides a hazy dreamlike effect. Almost as if you can’t believe what you’re seeing, and it all adds to the enigmatic circumstances surrounding Virginia.

My Drywall Cocoon has some great performances beginning with the veteran of the cast, Maria Luisa Mendonça. As Virginia’s mom, Patricia, you feel her pain of losing a child and the accelerated psychological breakdown that follows. One of her more haunting scenes is the character listening to her daughter’s voicemails from the party. Patricia wasn’t there when her kid needed her and the anguish on her face is heartbreaking. She will forever be plagued knowing that she is partly responsible.

Daniel Botelho, who plays the teen outcast Gabriel, has some intimate and moving moments as well. You sense his connection to Virginia as he and her best friend Luana mourn together. Even at his lowest, he can show compassion and offers Luana an escape. Having the ghost of Virginia linger in the background is a nice touch, as if she is still looking over those closest to her.

One character who turned out to be a disappointment is Roberto, Virginia’s father. There is so much talk and hype surrounding him, but his overall role is limited. There is so much energy spent on Roberto, it’s as if the man didn’t live up to the legend.

My Drywall Cocoon might not have the edginess you would expect considering its plot, but it does deliver a poignant story on the effects of loss bolstered by some key performances from Maria Luisa Mendonça and Daniel Botelho.

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