ALEX AND EVE, Australia, 2015. Starring Richard Brancatisano, Andrea Demetriades, Ryan O'Kane, Tony Nikolakopoulos, Zoe Carides, Simon Elrahi, Millie Samuels, Alex Lykos. Directed by Peter Andrikidis. 95 minutes. Rated M (Mature themes, coarse language and sexual references)
As with all fiction films, there is a statement at the end declaring that any similarity to actual persons is merely coincidental. For this film, with its characters and caricatures, as if…
Yes, we are supposed to think of Adam and Eve, but this is an Australian story, Sydney settings (which should do a lot for Sydney tourism, especially for the Harbour Bridge and climb and the magnificent views from the top). But Sydney is no Garden of Eden.
Alex comes from a Greek family, a Greek Orthodox family, the father, now a big boisterous man, self-made and comfortable, the mother patiently supportive, who sailed under Sydney Harbour Bridge 40 years earlier as migrants to make their lives in a new world. One of the main ambitions for the family is for Alex to have a Big Fat Greek Wedding, continually taunting him about it. He is a schoolteacher, maths (and explaining that Pythagoras and other Greeks invented mathematics). They are churchgoing but faith is not a strong suit for any of the men.
Eve comes from a Lebanese Muslim family, and, at the beginning, there is a Modest Fat Lebanese Wedding, for Eve’s brother, giving us the tone of Muslim customs and ceremonies in a Sydney backyard. She is a very successful lawyer.
It is not exactly love at first sight, he being dragged along by his friend to a harbourside club, she accompanied her assistant at work, each looking the other way and pulling on a stool at the bar, Alex pulling harder and Eve falling not exactly for him but because of him and he spilling beer on her dress as he helps her up. They talk, becoming calmer, go for something to eat, and feel something of an attraction.
Alex invites Eve to come to his class, a rowdy multicultural group with Chris, a footballing and swearing type, leading the pack, urging Sir to get a girlfriend. Eve asks them who wants to have a career helping people – and there are no takers. When they are asked if they want to make a lot of money, all hands go up.
The couple goes out, enjoys each other’s company, climb the Harbour Bridge, though Alex is a touch vertiginous, but makes it to the top and they kiss.
Which, of course, is putting off the evil day, when they have to tell their families. In the meantime there are lots of Greek scenes, lots of yelling and screaming. And, in the meantime, there are lots of Lebanese scenes, and a fair amount of yelling and screaming as well. There is a possible fiance in Beirut with whom they often Skype and who will turn up soon in Australia.
Multicultural? The Greeks abhor the Lebanese and vice versa, their memories of hundreds of years of pride and animosity, and differences of religion, it being unthinkable that anyone should marry outside the religion, either orthodox or Muslim. Greek dad and Lebanese mother are particularly vocal.
There is a scene where the two families meet – disaster.
Of course, what are they to do? Will Alex rebel and move out? Continue to see Eve? Will Eve defy her parents, agree to a marriage with the fiance? Well, yes and no – which means then that we have to see the film to find out how true love will conquer (as, of course, we know that it will – and if we have memories of the end of The Graduate, we might make a wager as to how it will turn out).
Lots of characters, lots of caricature is, but Alex and Eve are a very pleasant couple, rather picture book and each good-looking, played by Richard Brancisanata and Andrea Dimitriades. The screenplay, adapted from his play Alex Lykis (who plays Alex’s brother) is not meant to be particularly subtle, nor are the points to be made, necessary though they be, and it relies on humour with touches of satire. To many Australians, the mutual intolerance and derogatory attitudes of both sides, especially concerning marriage outside the culture and religion, may seem impossible – we might note that less than a century ago, Christians of various denominations talked this way and were not allowed into each other’s churches and marriages between churches frowned on…).
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Released November 5th.