Boy meets girl. Girl and boy fall in love. Boy’s parents don’t like girl; girl’s parents don’t like boy. Drama ensues.
Sound familiar? If it does, that’s because Alex & Eve is, in many ways, evocative of Romeo & Juliet. Rest assured though; this Australian rom-com has far fewer fatalities, and has been relocated and thoroughly updated for the modern age of dating.
Set in culturally-rich inner Sydney, the titular pair come together through a series of unexpected but fortunate events. Despite their first impressions and their differing personalities, Alex and Eve find themselves immediately and irrevocably attracted to each other. But while their shared experiences with overbearing parents and immigrant backgrounds give them the fertile common ground that their relationship needs to grow, it’s also what threatens to drive them apart. Alex’s family is Greek Orthodox, while Eve’s is Lebanese Muslim, and the divide between the two communities couldn’t be greater. With their parents and siblings acting as the ultimate foils, the pair battle against tradition, conviction and their own desires to stay together- and to stay apart.
Using a genre known for its relative light-heartedness (where all drama arises from the emotional problems that the characters face) Alex & Eve discusses issues like cross-cultural prejudices and pervasive stereotypes in a way rarely seen in romantic comedies. “It’s finding that balance between entertainment and story and relevance,” says Richard Brancatisano, whose performance as shy but sweet school teacher Alex straddles the comedic, dramatic and sentimental content with ease.
Indeed, even though this is a film that elicits audience-wide laughs a scene and buzzes with a jaunty Woody Allen-gone-Bankstown energy, it never fails to recognise the elephant in the room. With ever-growing tensions throughout the country, cultural representation in local film is more important than ever- a sentiment that creator and writer Alex Lykos holds true.
“I think it’s important as a film industry… that we tell the stories that our uniquely ours”, says Alex. “If you tell those stories, they will resonate. I really hope that this resonates with the audience, that they’ll go and see it and that it will pave the way for more films like it to get made. We are an inclusive multicultural society. That is who we are. We can’t deny that anymore.”
Richard echoes his views: “If you’re represented in stories, they touch you more deeply. You feel included in a culture and in the context of the country you live in.”
Alex & Eve joins a growing number of Australian films- like Holding the Man and unIndian– that better represent different people, different relationships, and the whole vast and varied gamut of love. So while it’s a story of two people falling in love in spite of the circumstances, it’s a movie that doesn’t just have heart; it has real soul.
Director: Peter Andrikidis
Running Time: 117 minutes
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Words by Kate Bethune | Images by The Iris and Alex & Eve