ALEX AND EVE
Australia, 2015, 95 minutes, Colour.
Richard Brancatisano, Andrea Demetriades, Ryan O 'Kane, Tony Nikolakopoulos, Zoe Carides, Simon Elrahi, Millie Samuels, Alex Lykos.
Directed by Peter Andrikidis.
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.Lots of characters, lots of caricaturies but Alex and Eve are a very pleasant couple, rather picture book and each good-looking, played by Richard Brancatisano and Andrea Demetriades. 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…).
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).
1. The title, expectations?
2. The Greek Orthodox background, Lebanese Muslim background, expectations?
3. The Sydney setting, migrants to Australia, bringing their traditions, often centuries old, old enmities, national pride, intolerance, labelling, derogatory aspects? Australia and its multi-cultural composition, multi-religious?
4. The film as a romantic comedy, but satiric comedy, humour making its points, serious points?
5. The introduction to the Greeks, the anticipation of My Big Fat Greek Wedding? The Medium Fat Lebanese Wedding, and the rituals and the ceremony
for Eve’s brother’s wedding?
6. Alex, his family, his brother, parents, the Greeks stances, the strong use of Greek language? The boisterous home? Alex and his teaching, Pythagoras and the Greeks inventing mathematics? the range of kids in the class, Christians, Muslims, Australians – and the multicultural looking down on Australians, beer clichés and all? The different students, their reactions, Alex’s reactions, bringing Eve into the class, talking about being a lawyer, the not wanting to help others, all interested in making money? The visit to the mosque, Eve’s father and his discussions, guidance? The kids and their squabbles, breaking up, family pressures against Australian-born, Chris and his winning the prize? The kids urging Alex on?
7. Going with Paul, the nightclub, getting the stool, even falling, literally for or because of Alex? Accident-prone? Paul, girlfriend, sex? Alex and Eve, their discussions, going to eat with takeaway? The awkwardness, an attempted kiss, shaking hands? Eve going to the school? Their going out, the gym and the Greek coach and his attitudes, the caution about their families? Climbing the Harbour Bridge, Alex’s fears, the ascent, the kiss at the top, the photo? Sharing so much, the possibilities, the effect of their love?
8. Eve, at home, the family Skyping the almost-fiance in Lebanon on? The mother, her pressures, the more reticent father? Some happy dancing sequences at home?
9. Alex, his family, his boisterous father, the self-made man, putting the garbage out and Eve’s accusation? The mother and her concern? The collapse and going to hospital?
10. The Greek parents, their stories, making money, support, rebellion or not and Alex possibly leaving home?
11. Eve’s parents, her fanatical mother, the father at the mosque, the family prayers, the traditions and faith?
12. The Greek family visiting the Lebanese? The preparations, warnings, the gradual insults, the criticisms of the food, bigotry on both sides, the fiasco of the visit?
13. Eve, reliance on Clare, the humour of eaves mother covering up Clare, looking at her photos, the presence of fiance, his expectations of the marriage, wondering about Alex and his family? Agreeing to the wedding?
14. Alex, upset, his brother talking about his separation from his wife and whether he loved her, moving out, alone?
15. The visit of Eve’s brother, Alex and his declaration? The car, going home, gathering the family, their driving recklessly through Sydney, arriving at the wedding?
16. The wedding, the traditional dress, Eve and her wedding dress, the pomp, the elaborate ceremonies?
17. Alex, intervening, Eve’s refusal, the imam asking several times whether she was giving free consent? Her change of heart?
18. Running away, the escape – and memories of The Graduate? All the families and all the characters dancing happily together?