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Head On
IMDB Rating: 6.6/10 from votes
Release: 20 April 2000 (Netherlands) /

Head On

Genre: Drama, Romance
Director: Andrew Bovell,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: Nineteen-year-old Ari confronts both his sexuality and his Greek family. Ari despises his once-beloved parents, former radical activists, for having entombed themselves in insular tradition. Ari is obsessed with gay sex, although he does make an unenthusiastic attempt to satisfy the sister of one of his best friends. While all of this is going on, he's facing problems with his traditional Greek parents, who have no clue about his sexual activities. Written by L.H. Wong <[email protected]>

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Critic Reviews

Head On is an amazing film. Its beauty and treasures lie in not judging the journey taken in the film but opening up to the experiences of a young man lost and hidden. Its not a bright, gay film but rather a fiery drama which doesn't offer answers but depicts a painful truth which many would prefer to disregard. This is a film about the loss of hope in the jaded nineties.

It is very much a local film (shot in Melbourne) and an Australian film, but I think it offers up wider and more general issues.

Few films capture the mood of the 1990s quite like Head On. It is a film embedded with characterisitics which intuitively identify the strangely blank decade that edged up to the 21st century. If the eighties was - though simplistically - regarded as the decade of high paced materialism. The 90s can be seen as a time of conservatism and cautiousness - again too simplistically - which could be regarded as the tired decade. A time imbued with a feeling that everything had already been done. Grunge embodied this, as did the increasing popularity of pastiche and remakes such as the way television shows were more and more the source for films. It was a time where even moreso than in previous decades - the answers and ideas were sort in ready-made forms. Reused, resurrected and exploited. Sarcasm and cynicism became law. Pettiness became more and more common. Many of us were just tired out.

Ari, the central character in Head On played with brilliant vibrant vividness by Alex Dimitriades, is the embodiment of this tired feeling. He reacts to the world by going to extremes in an attempt to register some feeling, a momentary intensity. Since there is nothing new to be found, he embraces fleeting bursts of passion and uses anything that helps him escape the exhausted sensation whether through drugs or sex, people or music. Anything that he can do to keep himself isolated and inside his own individual mind, he races toward. Head On. He's gay but not proud. He's Greek-Australian but not interested. He's young but may as well be old. History is an excuse to crap on and foster negativity. Ari can't contemplate love because he's lost between the cracks of a society he doesn't care for and doesn't want to contribute to maintaining. He doesn't trust but he yearns, somewhere deeply, for some sense of security or truth. The film follows his search for reason in the chaos of his life in a world of silences and charades. But for Ari, there can be no reason. He feels doomed. Sensation is his only food, the only way to quench an indiscriminate, blind thirst.

Dimitriades puts his body and soul into the role of Ari. Its the performance of commitment and intense passion for the role. He doesn't flinch at the frontal nudity or gay sex scenes as other actors might have and hence brings to the role an authenticity which is the spine of the film. But the supporting cast are equally well cast and powerful. Paul Capsis radiates every scene as Toula/Johnny, Ari's gender-bending cousin. Julian Garner is perfectly contrast as the one person who loves Ari enough to try and show him hope rather than dismissal. In fact, the script ensures even the smallest roles are provided with weight through the powerful and serious screenplay. The book from which this film was born - Loaded by Christos Tsiolka- is an excellent expansion of the films vision.

The soundtrack is split between roaring alt-rock and techno-pop with some interesting surprises. The whole film comes together with a precision and ease which never feels unnatural or artificial. This is a raw but tight film. It deals with issues intelligently and strongly without judgement or fear. The loss of hope shown here is left to be dealt with in our own lives, and with the people we meet. I think the film provides a welcome opportunity to reflect on the destructiveness of notions like identity and truth in a world which increasingly blurs examples that aren't suitable or fashionable.

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