Love and laughs at the Lucky Cafe

Wednesday, July 10, 1991

By Susan Mackie

Queen of Hearts
Screenplay by Tony Grisoni
Directed by Jon Amiel
Dendy Cinema, Sydney
Reviewed by Susan Mackie

Voted best film by audiences at the Sydney Film Festival, this story of a close-knit Italian family is told by 10-year-old Eddie Lucca (Ian Hawkes).

It begins as Eddie's mother, Rosa (Anita Zagaria), refuses to marry the proud and violent Barbariccia. Her true love is Danillo (Joseph Long). In a daring escape, they flee their Italian village and emigrate to England, where they open the Lucky Cafe. All seems well, but Barbariccia has followed them to London and is looking for revenge.

The script writer had a lot of fun with Eddie's narrative. It has the intensity and freshness of vision that a child's perspective offers. He reminds us at the end, with "That was how I remember it anyway", that the far-fetched incidents have more to do with a romantic remembrance of childhood than with reality.

A talking pig's head delivers his family's fate, visions of ghosts are frequent, and the mysterious black box and black-draped unsmiling grandmother are omnipresent. All are merely props in a movie which is essentially a light comedy. The characters are lovable and the acting is very successful.

-1>Hilariously over-the-top visuals and quirky coincidences are balanced by such down-to-earth themes as "growing up is a mixed experience" and "life can be difficult for migrants who set up small businesses in foreign countries". But what is different about the rendition of this Italian family is the absence of the usual religious overtones. In the Lucky Cafe, the family that gambles together stays together. n

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