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Lola Marceli, Alice Ansara, Lourdes Bartolome, Alex Dimitriades, Gabrielle Marsella, Silvio Ofria

Writer-Producer Anna-Maria Monticelli, Alex Dimitriades, Steven Jacobs

US: 00/00/02 UK: 09/08/02

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Daily Telegraph / Urban Cinefile Oz
The Independent

Lola Marceli IS La Spagnola (The Spanish Woman)

Set in Australia's Italian/Spanish immigrant community (the title is Italian for 'The Spanish Woman'), this quirky comedy has some seriously dark subtext. La Spagnola is Lola (Marceli), a sexy, feisty woman who is suddenly a single mother after her husband (Palomares) runs off with an Aussie (Thomson).

Now she's struggling with pregnancy and her smart, insolent teen daughter Lucia (Ansara), while the migrant community swirls around her. Lola is so focussed on both revenge and survival that everything else fades into the background. And Lucia has a few surprises in store.

Only an Australian film would dare mix breezy, outlandish humour with such a dark undercurrent of cruelty and sadness (see also Muriel's Wedding, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, etc). We don't quite know whether to laugh, cry or turn away from the screen in fear! But it's so consistently inventive and entertaining that it keeps us gripped. The nimble dialog is a revealing mix of three languages, and the characters are vividly well-played by the cast. Marceli creates one of the most memorable cinematic mothers in memory with the comic-defiant-bitter-obsessive Lola, seen through the eyes of her horrified daughter.

And it's in this mother-daughter relationship that the film actually finds resonance, and says some important things about the nature of real love. A bit clunky and overreaching, perhaps, but unforgettable filmmaking from start to finish.



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