Head On Review

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Ari feels trapped: parents demanding he get married on one side, the need for a 'real' job on the other. He relies on his raging hormones for guidance, creating further problems as he struggles to come to terms with his homosexuality and the difference between honest relationships and unbridled, anonymous lust.


Right from the off, it is clear that this is going to be a frantic ride. Set within the uptight Greek community in Australia, this small urban drama follows Ari (Dimitriades), a handsome teenager, snorting, smoking and screwing his way through one crazy night. The subsequent journey is real, graphic and littered with casualties.

Director Kokkinos, herself of Greek extraction, attacks some of the anachronisms in the lives of modern teenagers who are part of an immigrant family. As characters on both sides of the tradition-versus-modernity debate are offered up for judgement - transvestite Johnny (Capsis) or honourable Joe (Fotiou) - Kokkinos does a fine job in making you wonder about the futility of both.

Another bonus is that rather than create a straightforward hero, this is a movie that dares to be deeply ambivalent about its leading man. Essentially, Ari is an unlikeable person, self-absorbed, amoral and stubborn. But Dimitriades revels in his character's flaws, quickly realising that it is these very traits which make him so compelling.

His central performance, which binds the movie together, manages to combine just the right amount of swagger, arrogance and childlike fear. Similarly, there's absolutely no let-up from the frenetic pace, with spinning cameras and MTV-style editing imbuing the film with both visual flair and a very real sense of the claustrophobia that Ari is obviously feeling. Kinetic, at times shocking, and - as the title suggests - constantly in your face, this is a film that may be narrow in scope but is awfully big in heart.

It's heavy going, and at times it borders on a strange, aggressive self-pity, but the pace is relentless; an impressive feature debut from Kokkinos.