Reviewed by GREG KING

Director: Peter Andrikidis

Stars: Richard Brancatisano, Andrea Demetriades, Tony Nikolakopoulos, Gia Carides, Simon Elrahi, Rahel Romahn, Millie Samuels, Andy Trieu, George Kapinaris, Ryan O’Kane, Alex Lycos, Helen Chebatte.

This is the second locally produced cross-cultural romantic comedy to hit our screens in as many weeks. But this warm, funny and feel good crowd pleaser is far superior to the similarly themed UnIndian, which starred former cricketer Brett Lee.

The film follows Alex (played by Richard Brancatisano, from Underbelly, etc), who teaches maths at a local high school. Alex comes from a tight knit orthodox Greek family, who are keen to see him marry a good Greek girl and settle down. Then he meets Eve (Andrea Demetriades, from the SBS miniseries The Principal, etc), a lawyer who comes from a fairly strict Lebanese Muslim family. Likewise, her family is keen to see her marry a good man from Lebanon, and they have arranged a suitable match for her.

So when Alex and Eve decide that they want to get married the sparks fly and the two families react with varying degrees of horror. The outcome of it all is a little predictable, but there is plenty of fun to be had along the way.

Alex & Eve is based on the successful play written by Alex Lykos and there are a few semi-autobiographical elements in the story of an unlikely romance between a high school teacher and a lawyer from different backgrounds. The film explores issues of multiculturalism, racial diversity, culture and tradition, beliefs, love, family values and national identity, and shares some surface similarities with the very popular box office smash My Big Fat Greek Wedding, although it puts a uniquely Australian spin on the material.

But Alex & Eve sometimes plays to broad cultural stereotypes as well. The first meeting between the respective parents escalates the tension as misunderstandings and language barriers are put to the test, and they also argue over who created baklava. The Muslim greeting sounds rather like an expletive which sets Alex’s father off. Lykos draws some nice comparisons between the two families and their beliefs, but he also creates some nice contrasts between the two family patriarchs, which he plays for broad laughs.

The director is Peter Andrikidis, a seasoned veteran who is better known for his television work on series like the ethnically diverse East West 101, etc. His previous feature film was the underwhelming The Kings Of Mykonos: Wog Boys 2, an unnecesary sequel if ever there was one, and it seems that he is drawn to material that explores the multicultural nature of contemporary Australia. Here he handles the material with a bit more subtlety than Wog Boys 2 and he keeps things moving along at a reasonably fast pace throughout.

Lykos has expanded the play and opened it up beyond its theatrical origins, especially with a scene in which Alex and Eve climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Cinematographer Joseph Pickering, who is better known for his work on television series like Underbelly and Heartbreak High, etc, captures some beautiful images of the harbour and the city scape, making Sydney a character in the film. Sydney has rarely looked better on film. Unlike UnIndian, in which the use of many Sydney landmarks seemed forced, here the locations are organically integrated into the material.

There is some great chemistry between the appealing Brancatisano and the beautiful Demetriades that enlivens the material, and they are a very likeable and watchable couple. They are well supported by a strong ensemble cast. Comic Tony Nikolakopoulos in particular delivers a broadly stereotyped performance as Alex’s hot tempered and overbearing father George, and he effortlessly steals many scenes. Zoe Carides is good as Alex’s mother, who is a little more sympathetic, conciliatory and tolerant. Simon Elrahi is more restrained as Eve’s father, a gentle man who is more compassionate and sympathetic as he wrestles with his own religious and cultural beliefs while trying to ensure his daughter’s happiness.

The upbeat Alex & Eve was also chosen to open the recent Greek Film Festival, but this delightful romantic comedy should also hold great appeal for mainstream audiences as well.



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