Top End Wedding

***1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Top End Wedding
"Blair's sharp injection of pace helps to zip past any cliches so fast that you don't have much time to register them." | Photo: Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

The traditional rom-com formula is warmed by the Australian sunshine in Miranda Tapsell's Top End Wedding, co-written with Joshua Taylor and directed by Wayne Blair. It's multicultural vibe works in a similar way to that in Crazy Rich Asians, giving the familiar beats a fresh impetus, while Blair's sharp injection of pace helps to zip past any cliches so fast that you don't have much time to register them.

Tapsell also take the central role clever but klutzy lawyer Lauren - introduced with a puff of icing sugar and a broken high heel. She quickly becomes engaged to her sweet English boyfriend Ned (Gwilym Lee, fresh from playing Brian May in Bohemian Rhapsody), who neglects to tell her he's just quit his job. When Lauren's harridan boss (Kerry Fox) unexpectedly gives her time off for the wedding, the heat is on to head back to her family home in Darwin. The only problem being that, when she gets there, she finds her Tiwi Island mum Daffy (Ursula Yovich) - who we saw in a prologue fleeing her own traditional wedding to marry a white man - has walked out leaving her dad Trevor (Huw Higginson), sobbing in a cupboard.

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There's such a lot going on - including some excellent scenes with Ned and Lauren's dog Cher - that it feels like a bit of a sprint at first. It's seems almost cruel to say a film is too sweet for its own good, but that's also the case here. Conflict between the lovebirds is required by the plot, but Tapsell and Lee are so warmly convincing to that point that it's hard to believe they would fall out in the manner they do.

It's all a bit scattershot, but many of the comic beats are still nailed, including a running gag about Chicago's If You Leave Me Now and a string of charming visual gags, including one that could easily become a Lady And The Tramp internet meme. Inevitably, the Tiwi Islands and islanders are set to play their part, and it's here that the film finds its real heart - showcasing the traditional wedding preparations and celebrating the islands' LGBT inclusiveness. The warm mix of finding connections to family and traditions while celebrating new love is given added depth by the inclusion of islander non-actors, who add welcome emotional depth to the proceedings.

Reviewed on: 04 Feb 2019
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A couple mount a hunt for a bride-to-be's AWOL mum, so that they can can tie the knot.

Director: Wayne Blair

Writer: Miranda Tapsell, Joshua Tyler

Starring: Miranda Tapsell, Gwilym Lee, Kerry Fox, Huw Higginson, Travis Jeffery, Shari Sebbens, Ursula Yovich, Elaine Crombie, Matt Crook, Atmiya Patel, Taylor Wiese, Dalara Williams, Gwilym Lee, Kerry Fox, Miranda Tapsell

Year: 2019

Runtime: 103 minutes

Country: Australia

Festivals:

Sundance 2019

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