Face to Face, a film by Michael Rymer, with Matthew Newton and Luke Ford

12 September 2012

Face to Face, a film by Michael Rymer, movie poster

Face to Face (trailer), a drama, is the latest feature of Australian film director Michael Rymer (Perfume, Queen of the Damned), who also produced the Battlestar Galactica TV shows from 2003 to 2009. Face to Face is Rymer’s film adaptation of the play of the same name, written by Queensland based playwright David Williamson, in 2000.

Face to Face traces the proceedings of a community conference, a trial scheme that takes minor matters out of the court system, and brings together all who are party to a dispute. The process allows everyone to tell their side of the story, under the auspices of a moderator, who later drafts a resolution that binds on all involved.

Wayne (Luke Ford), a former employee of a Melbourne scaffolding company, is a hot headed young man who lost his job as result of violent outbursts and inappropriate conduct in the workplace. Luke finds himself before a community conference after ramming his ute into the car of ex-boss, Greg Baldoni (Vince Colosimo).

Wayne is supported by his mother Maureen (Lauren Clair), and best friend Barry (Josh Saks). Meanwhile Greg’s wife Claire (Sigrid Thornton), Julie (Laura Gordon) his secretary, Therese (Ra Chapman) the accountant, Richard (Chris Connelly) the foreman, and Hakim (Robert Rabiah) a worker, turn out for the company.

As the conference progresses though, Jack (Matthew Newton) who is moderating, often struggles to control tensions in the room. As the complicated series of events that led to Wayne’s outbursts work their way to the surface, tempers fray and emotions erupt, but it becomes clear there is far more to his actions than meet the eye.

For a drama that for the most part features ten people sitting in just one room for almost ninety minutes, Face to Face is utterly compelling. The key to this intrigue lies in both its strong characters, the ceaseless allure of gossip, together with the voyeuristic pleasure of witnessing people’s dirty laundry being aired in public.

In opening a can of worms that leaves just about everyone present embarrassed to a greater or lesser degree, Face to Face is a reminder that there are always two sides, maybe more, to every story. Robust performances, solid scripting, together with a deprecating humour, combine to create intense, gripping, fly on the wall style drama.

Originally published Wednesday 12 September 2012.


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