Head On

-

Head On

Restless, vulnerable, and alienated from the rigid expectations of his family and society at large, Alex Dimitriades, the darkly attractive hero of Ana Kokkinos' propulsive Head On, is cut from the same mold as James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause and East Of Eden. Lacking a disciplined story to give it shape, this ambling day-in-the-life thrives entirely on his roiling internal tensions as he heedlessly tests the boundaries of the world around him. A closeted Greek Australian in Melbourne, a city sharply divided along ethnic lines, Dimitriades feels confined by his national and sexual identity, which leads him to lash out at his parents' conservative traditions and engage in violent alleyway trysts with anonymous partners. Though his stern, self-consciously macho demeanor is difficult to read, over the eventful course of 24 hours, his fitful encounters with other characters provide some clues to his psyche. Head On's explicit, intensely physical sex scenes are a testament to Dimitriades' overwhelming desire, but he keeps his distance from two out friends—flaming Greek drag queen Paul Capsis and level-headed college student Julian Garner—and entertains the idea of a phony "normal" marriage with a drug-addicted lesbian. His knowing hypocrisy creates an anxious knot at the film's center, and Kokkinos exploits it to gripping effect. Herself a Greek immigrant, the director has a rich understanding of the country's insular rituals and values, which both explains Dimitriades' reticence to own up to his sexuality and offers a unique cultural flavor. Though some of its loosely knit vignettes are less revealing than others, Head On is a distinct and expressive angle on the gay experience.