Shooting Michael Rymer’s latest flick Face To Face was like performing in a theatre play, actress Laura Gordon says.
“We were working consistently with the same bunch of people in one room on one text,” the 29-year-old says, who cut her teeth at Melbourne’s Red Stitch theatre company about a decade ago.
“It was so text-driven. It seemed like such an exciting, odd sort of adventure to go on and I couldn’t turn it down.”
The adventure in question – based on acclaimed Australian playwright David Williamson’s play of the same name – takes its audience inside the claustrophobic, controversial world of “dispute resolution”.
Making its Victorian premiere at MIFF last Friday night, the local drama is about betrayal, sex, lies and bullying and has collected a swag of awards including Best Movie at the Monaco Film Festival earlier this year.
It features an all-star cast including Luke Ford (Animal Kingdom, Kokoda), Vince Colosimo (Body Of Lies, Daybreakers), Sigrid Thornton (Seachange, Underbelly) and Matthew Newton (Underbelly, Queen of the Damned).
The story focuses on Wayne (Ford), a young construction worker who purposefully rams into the back of his boss’s (Colosimo) jaguar after being sacked. Rather than dealing with the issue in a courtroom, a face-to-face restorative justice session takes place involving a diverse cast of characters with their own issues and secrets.
Gordon, who starred in Hollywood horror film Saw V, plays Julie – a flirtatious and attractive secretary who has strung Wayne along as a gag that is enjoyed by everyone else, and is an accomplice to Wayne’s abuse and Claire’s unhappiness.
“I thought it was interesting playing a character that I guess was unlikable and does a lot of things that you think initially ‘how could you do that?’ and then I liked how the script turned that on its head,” Gordon says from her home base of Melbourne after growing up in our nation’s capital.
“As the script does with all the characters – you have an initial preconception about the character and the layers are pulled back and you think ‘okay maybe I don’t understand this character so much and maybe I shouldn’t judge them so quickly’ so that’s what drew me to Julie.”
Rymer, who also adapted and produced the flick, intertwines the attempts at a resolution with dramatic flashbacks of various incidents.
“Flashbacks are used for some key events but the focus is on what’s happening psychologically,” says Rymer, best known for AFI-winning film Angel Baby and 2002 horror Queen of the Damned, which were both shot in Melbourne.
“I wanted to preserve the pressure-cooker intensity necessary for the characters to open up.
“By systematically exposing the characters to each other, it forces them to see the consequences and effects of their actions, the characters are able to transcend their own subjective view, and understand that they are part of a ‘tribe’ where everyone’s actions affect everyone else.”
Financed independently, the film was shot in Melbourne over just 12 days early last year using DSLR technology for all primary cameras, which assisted the filmmakers in keeping the costs down.
Face To Face will be distributed by independent Sydney company Australian Film Syndicate and will be seen in seven cinemas across NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and ACT from September 8.
Vince Colosimo and Laura Gordon in Face To Face