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Australia 2015
Directed by
Peter Andrikidis
90 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Sharon Hurst
2.5 stars

Alex And Eve

Synopsis: Alex (Richard Brancatisano) is the 30 year old son of Greek parents and a teacher at a Sydney high school. Eve el Masri (Andrea Dimitriades) is the daughter of Lebanese immigrants and a lawyer. Both sets of parents want their kids to marry into their own community so when Eve and Alex fall for each other the parents try their darndest to keep them apart.

Sound familiar? That's because it’s pretty similar to the plot of another Australian film dealing with inter-racial romance, unIndian, which was released last week. Although Alex And Eve is from a play that screenwriter Alex Lykos first got on stage in 2006, given the current dramas surrounding immigration and integration of the Muslim community in our society it is certainly still relevant today. And what better way than love and laughter to attempt to break down racial prejudice?

Andrikidis directed the popular ethnic comedy Wog Boy 2 – Kings of Mykonos. That was a film which nailed the Greek cultural personality and once again this is the strength of his latest film. The star of this film for me is Alex’s father, George (Tony Nikolakopoulos), who claims he sourced his character from the many loud and rude Greek men he knew as a child. At times he borders on offensive, especially in the slanging matches he has with the Lebanese parents, but it’s undeniably funny. How well the depiction of the Muslim community works I can’t say, but no doubt some will be offended by the stereotyping, others will laugh at it.

Whilst I love broad satire, I have reservations about several aspects of the plotting and scripting of this film. The almost slapstick way in which Alex meets Eve at a bar doesn’t feel true, nor does the way in which Alex handles his classroom or the way in which the students act as Dorothy Dix love-life advisers to their teacher.  Much the same goes for the familiar dance-based feel-good ending which feels forced and inauthentic, particularly coming after its preceding scene.  But here’s the part that really bugs me: Eve is an Australian-educated lawyer yet she has absolutely no ability to stand up to her parents and their insistence that she marry a devout Muslim they intend to ship from Lebanon for the purpose. Perhaps having a Greek actor play a Lebanese and an Italian-heritage actor play a Greek also added to the lack of verisimilitude.

Alex And Eve is well made, well-intentioned and looks lovely in its depiction of  its Sydney settings. But it is so trivializing in its contrived and ham-fistedly manipulative play for laughs that one actually yearns for some  serious discussion of the issues it raises.

 

 

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