Nineteen years old. A little confused. Very pissed off. Ari jams all his energy and defiance, pain and joy into one high velocity night of dancing, sex and drugs. He's running head on in his own kind of freedom.
This tale of Greek Australian Ari - Alex Dimitriades - caught between his Greekness, his Australianness, his gayness and his city of Melbourne - is a brilliant and yet confronting cinema experience. Ari has urges to dance Greek dances, to have sex with strangers, to connect with family and friends and also to escape family and friends. He's close to his sister Alex - Andrea Mandalis - and to Johnny - Paul Capsis - who has his own way of dealing with his background and his sexuality. But Ari seems to be on a self-destruct course, he doesn't seem to like himself very much so it's hard to accept love and affection.
Head On is adapted from Christos Tsiolkas' much praised book Loaded. It was never going to be an easy book to adapt because so much of it is an internal monologue, but Ana Kokkinos, working with screenwriters Andrew Bovell and Mira Robertson has achieved much, if not all, of the spirit of the original. As director, Kokkinos' style is assured, fluid, expressive. The film is well-served by the central performance of Alex Dimitriades as Ari. From The Heartbreak Kid, Dimitriades has matured into a performer of such strength that you wonder what the film would have been like without him. He's a knockout. Lovers of the book have taken exception to the portrayal of Johnny but Paul Capsis brings a gutsy vulnerability to the character that is very affecting. And actually gutsy is a word that applies to the whole film, it takes the Greek Australian gay experience and literally confronts it head on. It's an exhilarating piece of filmmaking that once again makes you excited about seeing another terrific Australian Film on the big screen.
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