Face to face, which is based on a David Williamson play, takes us into the often volatile world of conciliation hearings. Like 12 Angry Men it uses a group confrontation to peel back the layers on a seemingly clear cut assault, challenge our initial perceptions of the incident, skewer stereotypes and reveal dark secrets about the participants.
Red Dog’s Luke ford plays a young, recently sacked scaffolder named Wayne who‘s facing prison for slamming his ute into his boss Greg’s (Vince Colosimo) Jag. Attending a conciliation group in which he faces his boss and former work colleagues is his only alternative to jail.
A fine script and excellent performances, particularly from Matthew Newton (somewhat ironically cast as the group facilitator) and Robert Rabiah as a co-worker, convincingly shift our perception of Wayne and other characters from reprehensible idiots to more complex and often victimised people.
For the most part, the film intelligently examines the corrupting pressures of the work place on people at all levels although importantly, it doesn’t absolve anyone of personal responsibility.
The film belies its theatre origins by setting most of the action in one room but this is by no means a liability on the big screen and in many ways adds to the intensity of the story.
The only stumble occurs when the film begins disgorging details of extra marital affairs, becomes too soapy and temporarily loses credibility. Fortunately the clever script adapted from Williamson by Michael Rymer is sufficiently compelling to draw us back in.
At first, the star packed cast which also includes Sigrid Thornton as Colosimo’s long suffering wife is distracting and makes it difficult to see the characters as everyday people but the quality of their performances is such that they soon dissolve into their characters.
As one of the best Aussie film of the year so far, Face to Face is a definite recommendation.
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