La Spagnola review

Imagine an Almodóvar comedy-melodrama set in a dusty Australian town at the turn of the '60s. Got that? Welcome to Steve Jacobs' promising debut...

The Spanish woman of the title is Lola (Lola Marceli), a hot-blooded beauty seeking redress for her faithless hubby's demise. But our sympathies lie more with Lola's ugly-duckling daughter Lucia (Alice Ansara), whose own revenge plans clash with La Spagnola's.

Collaborating with writer-producer spouse Anna-Maria Monticelli, Jacobs doesn't fan the flames of the mother-daughter conflict as high as he might, despite his cast's sterling efforts. Yet while the flirtations with absurdist humour and magic realism are also hit and miss, dullness rarely intrudes. A striking opening and bittersweet finish bookend many attention-grabbing moments, including a kitchen scene where a large vegetable is used to provide more than gastronomic pleasure.

Flitting between English, Spanish and Italian, this multilingual movie may not speak the audience's lingo all the time, but it makes a clear impression.

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