The 2013 Australian Film: Face to Face

This was the official website of the 2013 Australian Film: Face to Face. The content below is from the site's archived pages and Rotten Tomato reviews.


Genre: Art House & International , Drama

Directed By:Michael Rymer

Written By:Michael Rymer , David Williamson

In Theaters:Jan 11, 2013 

Limited On DVD:Mar 19, 2013



From Australia’s most acclaimed playwright, David Williamson, a moving and powerful new film about lies, betrayal, sex and bullying in the workplace. A young construction worker rams into the back of his boss’s Jaguar in a fit of anger at being sacked. Rather than fronting court, he’s given the chance to explain his actions in a community conference.  This face-to-face confrontation between the young man, his boss, his boss's wife, co-workers, best mate and mother lifts the lid not only on his dysfunctional life but on their workplace dirty laundry, turning all of their lives upside down. Face to Face stars a stellar ensemble cast led by Vince Colosimo, Sigrid Thornton and Luke Ford and is directed by Michael Rymer (Angel Baby).



“Face to Face is that rare film which grabs a hold of you at the beginning and doesn't let go till the end. It is an amazing piece of cinema – riveting, thought-provoking, transformative. Only once or twice a year do I see such a film – and this year that film is Face to Face.”

Michael Moore

*   *   *

“ 4 STARS, Terrific! a really riveting piece of drama and his cast triumph"

Margaret Pomeranz, At The Movies, ABC

*   *   *

“ 5 STARS, An Aussie film that easily slips into my Top Ten Australian Films of All Time. In face Face To Face is so good that if it were an American Film you can guarantee that people would be mentioning its name in the same sentence as the word Oscars”

Dave Griffiths, Buzz Magazine

*   *   *

“ 4 STARS, An engrossing tale. Vince Colosimo nails his part, Luke Ford - Excellent, Matthew Newton - Perfect. Its Fabulous!”

Richard Wilkins, The Today Show

*   *   *

“4.5 STARS - Floating between strong tensions and sharp humour, it's marvelous viewing that will please those who see Australia as a country making world-class films unblemished by the cliches of pop culture. It's packed with surprises. Every performance is right on the mark. And despite its serious core, it sends us out with warm fuzzies."

Dougal Macdonald, City News

*   *   *

“A powerful, engaging film that delivers insight and emotional punch…Astringent & Gripping, Face To Face is a triumph."

Andrew L. Urban,

*   *   *

“It is the perfect crucible, and of course, nothing is what it seems…Face to Face is an example of the quality that can be achieved when you start with a good script, and stay true…is sure to be one of the best Australian offerings of the year.

Rebecca Butterworth, Filmink MIFF Coverage

*   *   *

“The film is entirely believable. To such an extent that the momentum, the revelations, the emotions, the perspectives and the performances peel away the layers to find the core of the problems and leave you believing a fair resolution will be achieved.”

LYN MILLS, Canberra Times

*   *   *

"Rymer combines crisp, fluid camerawork with a flowing, penetrative script that he adapted from David Williamson's play. The result is a small-scale character-driven work that stands tall, gliding smoothly between introspective stillness and dramatic fireworks.

Simon Foster, SBS Film

*   *   *

"The film's crowning beauty is its fluidity. The conversations, loaded with humorous tilts, entwines back-stories, flashbacks and character motivations until the audience's initial moral judgements are almost completely upturned.

Luke Buckmaster, Cinetology

*   *   *

“Everyone's dirty laundry gets raised up the flagpole in Face to Face, a bristling little Australian indie that lands its many punches with pungent power. Within the format of a community conference – an Australian technique of airing differences with the hope that reconciliation can avoid official legal proceedings – what seems like a simple case of a wild youth's violence fans out to expose a far deeper and comprehensive set of ills. Winner of the Santa Barbara Film Festival's independent feature award, this smartly enacted issues drama snaps the audience to attention from the outset and never lets up…”

Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter

*   *   *

"My problem with Face to Face is that, hard as I try, I can’t find any flaws. The film opens with a shock, a scene that looks like road rage, but isn’t. From then on, nothing is what it seems, as a cast of variegated characters decides the offender’s fate. I found myself stuck to my armchair waiting for the next Pirandello-like unravelling of character. Audience assumptions are built and peeled away, one surprise follows another to reveal identities and relationships. It isn’t easy to maintain pace when the focus is on a small set of men and women sitting in a single room, but Australian Director Michael Rymer has a deft hand. The casting is superb, the attention to detail stunning. Face to Face lived up to its promise - a film as powerful and riveting as 12 Angry Men. Can Rymer’s next effort maintain the momentum?"         

Lois Bolton, Monaco Diary & BAM News, Monaco

 *   *   *

"One of the most powerful movie of the 21st Century. Movie making at its best"                    

Georges Chamchoum, Artistic & Program Director Monaco Charity Film Festival



Critics 91%  | Audience 88%



Face to Face

September 8, 2011  By Glenn Dunks

Directed by Michael Rymer


Ten people sit inside a recreation hall fitted with only a collection of sturdy, if uncomfortable, chairs and a table with cups and a jug of water on it in front of an unmanned bar. This is the no frills setting of Face to Face, an unfussy adaptation of the David Williamson play of the same name. Written and directed on a tightly-reigned leash by Michael Rymer (Angel Baby), Face to Face will never be mistaken for the most exciting film of the year, but it’s a bold one nonetheless that rewards viewers with spiky wordplay and tart performances from a cast of big names and lesser knowns.


Assembling in this hall are the key individuals involved in a particularly nasty workplace dispute that ended violently when Wayne (Luke Ford, Animal Kingdom) rammed his reinforced ute into the back of Greg Baldoni’s (Vince Colosimo, The Wog Boy) sports car. This so-called “restorative justice session” aims to allow the parties to avoid the legal consequences of court and settle it “face to face”, but what the group’s leader – an authoritative Matthew Newton (Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities) as Jack – can’t control are the threads of lies and deception that these people that begin to unravel parallel to the central issue at hand.




Wayne is a dim bulb, whose history of family abuse formed within him a short fuse that makes him ripe for workplace bullying. But when a particularly mean-spirited joke plays out involving himself, flirtatious company secretary Julie (Laura Gordon, Twentysomething) and meek accountant Therese (newcomer Ra Chapman), and enacted by ringleader Hakim (Robert Rabiah, Under the Radar), Wayne is fired and takes his frustration out on his boss in the driveway of his luxury mansion that doesn’t quite befit a man who pays his workers less than the average industry wage. Issues of race, class, greed and sexuality are weaved throughout Rymer’s screenplay as infidelities, betrayals and disgraces begin to tumble out of the guests mouths as if unfiltered between their brain and their speech.


If Face to Face is all a little too neat and tidy – you can all but see the ribbons and bows being tied on various plot strands as soon as they’re resolved throughout the brief 88 minute running time – then that’s certainly not the fault of the ensemble cast, who continue to give their characters new angles and shadows until the very end. The way Colosimo continuously adjusts his masculine stance in the room as he routinely touches and flares attention to his expensive designer suits that are in stark comparison to everyone else’s attire in the room is a particularly humourous touch. So too is the way Chapman’s shy Therese is routinely seen at the edge of the frame and in background shots not saying a word, representing the way she casually observes yet rarely partakes in her workplace’s office politics. When she emerges out of her shell, Chapman lets rip with a boiled over personality as if she’s never been given the opportunity before.


It’s up to two elder female cast members to hold the whole thing together though. As duelling mothers and wives, Lauren Clair (Matching Jack) and Sigrid Thornton (SeaChange) bring a dignified touch to the material that is otherwise missing amidst the rather working class cast of characters. Dennys Ilic does what he can with the straightforward cinematography, but the film’s unheralded team member will surely be editor Sasha Dylan Bell who creates swift and concise passages out of the lengthy text whilst elsewhere implementing a Rashômon effect for flashback sequences that show the dastardly deeds being discussed. It is a refreshing way of expanding the stage-bound material outside the four walls of its set without coming off as silly like many other films do.


Engaging, but rarely pompous, Michael Rymer’s Face to Face pokes at important issues and ones that are rarely explored in contemporary Australian cinema in such a forthright, verbose manner. There’s a delicious camaraderie between the cast that sparks on screen whilst Rymer and his crew have somehow found a way to make the film’s stage origins less irritating and, instead, work for the material. It’s less about achieving some sort of grand cinematic revelation than it is watching talented actors muse of prickly issues and provoking audiences to do the same. I guess you could say it’s like a play, but cheaper.




Film review: Face to Face




Face to Face (M) Director: Michael Rymer (Angel Baby) Starring: Vince Colosimo and Laura Gordon (above), Sigrid Thornton, Luke Ford, Matthew Newton. Verdict: Look. Listen. Learn. Stars: * * *


THIS here's what they call "a tough sell": an Australian movie where people sit around in a community hall and talk about their problems for 90 minutes.


This here's also what they call in the real world "a recipe for disaster". And yet, Face to Face keeps finding a way to rise above most viewers' worst expectations. To be fair, few will be going out of their way to see this punchy, low-budget, high-intensity drama.


Nevertheless, none of the intrepid, curious or just plain patriotic movie-goers who happen along the film will regret it. Adapted from a work by veteran Australian playwright David Williamson (Don's Party), the film verbally rakes over the coals of a fiery workplace dispute.


At the invitation of an independent mediator (Matthew Newton), all interested parties have pulled up a chair to present their perspective.


It is a messy one. Scaffolding apprentice Wayne (Luke Ford) believes he was wrongfully sacked by his boss Greg (Vince Colosimo) and wants his job back. Greg is not about to go back on his decision. After all, Wayne later went after him in a bizarre road-rage incident that almost broke his neck. But once the verbal pyrotechnics ignite, we learn a lot at Greg's business was anything but businesslike. In an atmosphere rife with bullying, bigotry and bad leadership, a meltdown such as Wayne's was guaranteed. Almost.


With the ensemble cast all instinctively attuned to Williamson's clever contrasting of the realities on the factory floor with the delusions of head office, Face to Face stares down doubters with pure intent.



By Simon Foster

1 JAN 2009

A welcome return home for Michael Rymer.

MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Michael Rymer’s Face to Face reminds us what a fine director he was when he swept the AFI’s in 1995 with his debut film, Angel Baby.

The director has finally returned to the big screen after a decade of self-imposed exile (stemming from his tortuous Queen of the Damned experience), which he spent classing up science fiction shows in the US (Battlestar GalacticaFlashForward). Rymer combines crisp, fluid camerawork with a flowing, penetrative script that he adapted from David Williamson’s play. The result is a small-scale character-driven work that stands tall, gliding smoothly between introspective stillness and dramatic fireworks.

The construct is effectively simple: a conflict resolution session scrutinises the lives and relationships of several employees of a medium-sized industrial scaffolding business, all of whom may have played a part in a violent encounter that threatens to send one of them to gaol. Overseen by conflict counsellor Jack (strongly brought to life by Matthew Newton in a role full of bitter irony, given his well-publicised real-life issues), the session has been called to determine why young, simple-minded firebrand Wayne (a boisterous Luke Ford) attacked the owner of the business, Greg Baldoni (Vince Colosimo). Also present is Greg’s wife Claire (Sigrid Thornton), Wayne’s mum Maureen (Lauren Clair),childhood friend Barry (Josh Saks), and several of Greg’s employees, like sexy secretary Julie (Laura Gordon), middle-eastern muscle Hakim (Robert Rabiah), downtrodden foreman Richard (Chris Connelly) and shy Asian bookkeeper Therese (Ra Chapman).

Each character is introduced as a crudely drawn stereotype. (Therese sits with her head bowed, barely whispering when forced to speak; Hakim’s olive, chiselled arms are revealed in a sleeveless shirt, his angular face made fierce by a thick goatee; Julie is all hair and cleavage.) Rymer’s aim is to break down the entrenched notions each character’s appearance inspires, however shamefully, in the audience. 

As the narrative becomes increasingly complex, the well-staged use of flashbacks allows for a recounting of key events in the days leading up to the assault, through which we learn that Greg’s workplace is a cauldron of bullying, racism, infidelity and mismanagement. Secondly, the device serves to expand the restrictive conventions of the work’s theatrical roots and Rymer, whose original words for these sequences integrate seamlessly with Williamson’s text, oversees these functional interludes with great skill.

Williamson’s penchant for the feelgood finale pushes the subversive reversal of each character’s defining traits to the nth degree; Rymer strives for an upbeat vibe in the film’s last 10 minutes that unnecessarily stretches the credibility and integrity of his characters. Some might feel reality left the building earlier on – at a key juncture in the drama, some frank sexual admissions turns the drama into a rather twee man vs. woman standoff. (The sequence is not helped by Thornton’s wide-eyed histrionics; unusually, she is the weak link in an otherwise fine cast.) 

That said, the strengths of Face to Face far outweigh its shortcomings. A smart blend of social satire and moral think piece, it’s resonant Australian movie-making best suited to a mature audience. Rymer’s confident execution indicates the sabbatical he enjoyed in the Hollywood trenches has served his instincts well. His return to the domestic film landscape makes one hope he does not disappear again anytime soon.