In Australia the ‘desert movie’ is as synonymous with the nations cinematic output as the gangster movie is the recognised folly of the British industry. Australia though seems to have found a potential antidote to this identity - Wog power.La Spagnola is the latest in Australia’s promising multicultural cinematic voices of recent years (most notably, Head On, Looking For Alibrandi and the self-parodying domestic hit Wog Boy).
More resentful to each other as a family unit, than victims of outside alienation as Spanish immigrants in 60’s Australia, the dysfunctional mother and daughter relationship is the centrepiece of a film that serves up a wide array of laconic laughs – from kitchen sink to surreal fantasy.
This is no comic romp though. With the mother - jilted and pregnant - on an intense blitzkrieg path of revenge, while her oddball daughter Lucia, caught up in the slipstream of her mother’s wrath, casts a despondent figure. This is one bitter movie. Lacking sympathetic characters, it at times comes across as uncomfortable and detached viewing. But never when Lola Marceli is on screen…
The incendiary brilliance of her performance as the mother is enthralling. Impassioned and menacing in every frame, coupled with her ridiculous beauty, she burns up the screen.With her character volatile and scornful, Marceli's performance in the film is akin to putting a bottle of Tabasco sauce into an already spicy chorizo sandwich. (David Michael)