Head On

  • 1999
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

Overlong but intensely acted, Australian director Ana Kokkinos's adaptation of Chritos Tsiolkas's novel Loaded traces the desperate downward spiral of Ari (Alex Dimitriades), a young immigrant searching for freedom in the back alleys of Melbourne, Australia. Socialist radicals in their homeland, Ari's parents (Tony Nikolakopoulos, Eugenia Fragos) now live...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Overlong but intensely acted, Australian director Ana Kokkinos's adaptation of Chritos Tsiolkas's novel Loaded traces the desperate downward spiral of Ari (Alex Dimitriades), a young immigrant searching for freedom in the back alleys of Melbourne,

Australia. Socialist radicals in their homeland, Ari's parents (Tony Nikolakopoulos, Eugenia Fragos) now live model immigrant lives in the heart of Melbourne's tightly knit, socially conservative Greek enclave, teaching their children the value of hard work, diligent study and, above all, getting

married and raising a family. But they're worried about Ari — he's single, unemployed, lives at home and shows no sign of having any sense of purpose. They don't know the half of it; Ari is also gay and spends most of his afternoons stoned and wandering the streets in search of hard drugs and

cheap sex. He claims he's looking for freedom, refusing to settle down like his friends and defining himself as a man outside his parent's traditional idea of virility. But the path to liberation looks more like the road to hell over the course of one self-destructive, drug-fueled night that also

holds the promise of love and possible redemption. Ari's perspective is fascinating: He's simultaneously inside a traditional, hermetically sealed immigrant community and an outsider by virtue of his sexuality. He can live openly and incur ridicule, like his transvestite friend Johnny (Paul

Capsis), or live a lie; in one of the most incisive bits of dialogue, a Greek fortune teller advises, "Find a girl, get married — then it doesn't matter what you do." Kokkino's direction is stylish (Ari's drug haze is particularly effectively realized) and the cast does strong work;

Dimitriades is excellent, though he looks ten years too old to be playing the 19-year-old Ari. But one too many demonstrations of traditional Greek dancing at one too many night clubs make the film drag.

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  • Released: 1999
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Overlong but intensely acted, Australian director Ana Kokkinos's adaptation of Chritos Tsiolkas's novel Loaded traces the desperate downward spiral of Ari (Alex Dimitriades), a young immigrant searching for freedom in the back alleys of Melbourne, Austral… (more)

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