IOFILM : FILM : REVIEW

Head On rating 
4/5 Head On

   
Director Ana Kokkinos
Writer Andrew Bovell
Stars Alex Dimitriades, Paul Capsis, Julian Garner, Elena Mandalis, Eugenia Fargos
Certificate 18
Running time 104 minutes
Country Australia
Year 1998
Associated shops

Reviewed by WW

MANDALIS Ari (Dimitriades) comes from a family of Greek immigrants, to Australia, steeped in Greek cultural traditions and prejudices. Everyone in his family wants and expects him to get married, get a job, settle down and carry on listening to Greek music like the rest of them, but he has other ideas. First of all, he is gay. Secondly, employment equals servitude in his eyes. He also doesn't feel close links to his family: to his sister Alex, intent on losing her virginity to a Lebanese boy; to his friend Johnny, determined to be a woman against his father's will; to his crazy cousin Betty, looking for the next drug high, and even to his father, patriarchal and domineering, but wanting to keep his family together.

Ari looks for freedom in a mad night of drugs, music, and sexual encounters with various people, most of them men. His final realisation of freedom is linked with acceptance of who he is, and the strength to live with the knowledge. He realises he is not going to change the world, but that he can be who he wants nonetheless.

Wonderfully shot and superbly acted, "Head On" provides a glimpse of the restrictions that family life, traditions, and racial and sexual stereotypes can impose. At the same time, they also provide certain freedoms: the freedom to be Greek among other Greeks, or gay among other gays. Essentially, while the struggle for freedom is something that involves everybody, it is up to each individual to work out what binds them and what sets them free.

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