Saturday, 19 March 2011

La Spagnola

The irony of this 2001 Australian film starts with its title La Spagnola that is Italian for the Spanish Woman! This is a story about an outsider among outsiders, not only is the very attractive Lola an ethnic alien in 1960’s Australia but she does not fit in with the Italian expat community in which she lives surrounded by an oil refinery, none of the beautiful wide open Australian spaces in American born Australian resident Steve Jacob’s first feature film.

Lola’s Italian husband Ricardo runs off with a voluptuous Aussie blonde leaving his pregnant wife and his teenage daughter Lucia (through whose eyes we see most of the film) to fend for themselves. He uses all their money to bank role a sleek motorcar for his mistress, a woman who has a very healthy sexual appetite, which is part of the reason for our Italian Casanova premature demise. Lucia side’s with her father and takes refuge with her Aunt Manolo while Lola, desperate and destitute, puts her fiery survival instincts to use involving a very low cut red dress!

With its Italian, Spanish and English dialogue this is an unusual Aussie movie that blends cruel humour with a serious subject in the grand tradition of twisted Australian comedies such as Muriel’s Wedding (1994) and The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert (1994). This is Spanish actress Lola Marceli’s first major role and Alice Ansara who plays Lucia was nominated for an Australian Film Institute award in this her debut feature film.

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