Top End Wedding – movie review

Movies about weddings, with all their inherent potential for high drama and comedy, are a popular choice for both filmmakers and audiences. Top Wedding, directed by Wayne Blair (The Sapphires), should prove a crowd-pleaser in this country although whether it will translate to overseas audiences will be interesting to watch.

Marketed as a romantic comedy, the film starring the always appealing Miranda Tapsell (The Sapphires) is probably more a drama with lighthearted moments. If you go in expecting a laugh a minute, or constant high-energy hijinks, you might be a little disappointed. The humour seems forced in the early stages, and the film actually becomes much more enjoyable and enthralling when it tones down the humour for some more meaningful fare.

Tapsell plays lawyer Lauren, who gets a welcome job promotion from her hard-headed boss (Kerry Fox). On the same day her guy, Ned (Gwilym Lee – who played Brian May in Bohemian Rhapsody), quits his job but fails to tell her, then in typical rom-com mode, asks her to marry him the same day. She joyfully accepts and of course this is where the obstacles enter the mix. The pair head to Lauren’s former home of Darwin to start making wedding plans, only to find her depressed dad, (Huw Higginson), shutting himself in a cupboard repeatedly playing Chicago’s song, If You Leave Me Now, on a cassette player. It seems Lauren’s mum, Daffy (Ursula Yovich), has just suddenly up and left him and he’s not dealing with it at all.

Eventually the action switches to Daffy’s home ground of the Tiwi Islands, a place that Lauren has never even been to and which Daffy herself fled when she walked out on her traditional wedding to marry a white man. She’s been gone ever since, with the family rift seemingly unable to be healed… or maybe it will be now. The scenes on the Tiwi Islands, with all of their local cultural elements, all help to make the climactic moments as Daffy and Lauren reconnect with their people very moving.

Wayne Blair is a director of note, not just of The Sapphires but several TV series, and it’s here that his work shines. It’s a rich, indigenous aspect of this country that has rarely been shown on film and it’s realised very effectively. The script, by Tapsell and Joshua Tyler, despite its unevenness in the early stages, has some nice moments, and the performances are good all round.

Director: Wayne Blair
Cast: Miranda Tapsell, Gwilym Lee, Huw Higginson, Kerry Fox
Release Date: 2 May 2019
Rating: M

Vicki Englund

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