8:00 PM, 20th March, 1999
Head On is an exhilaratingly sordid and refreshingly complex drama, which revolves around a day in the life of young Greek-Australian Ari (Alex Dimitriades). Head On rushes boldly into the usually sensitive and precious terrains of ethnicity, sexuality, drugs and gender with a raw and explicit empathy that faces the issues of identity and ambivalence almost painfully clearly. Its script, cinematography, performances and much of its direction live up to its title; graphic depictions of urgent and anonymous sex, casual and habitual drug use, violent family confrontations, the ambivalent bonds between family and friends and the mythic nostalgia of the post-WWII migration experience to Australia may seem like grim and serious themes requiring a stand, yet Head On manages to escape such moral judgements through its strong characterisations, confident direction and exceptional performances. This movie is a 'rites of passage' film where nothing is neatly resolved. This is a brilliant Australian film that deserves a wide audience.
One would suspect the only reason this may not achieve a more international audience would be the unrelenting darkness and nihilism that make it such a stand out. The moments of joy and light are hard to recall after leaving the theatre, smothered in the memory by the brilliant portrayal of the fear and self-hatred Ari is fleeing through such self-destructive, and most likely no longer enjoyable, behaviour.
10:00 PM, 20th March, 1999
The heroine of the story, Julia, is stuck in a wheel chair and cannot talk. A computer keyboard is her only form of communication. She is totally dependent on a carer for basic every day needs. Her carer, Madeline, actually cares only for herself. Into Julia's life comes a strong and gentle caring man. Madeline steals him from Julia. So what should Julia do? Steal him back!
This film is a sensitive account of the day to day living of an invalid. It portrays the subject realistically and sympathetically. While it is a worthy film, its entertainment qualities are not high. I enjoyed seeing it but was glad not to have paid for it.