Wednesday 17 April 2019

Film Review: Top End Wedding

An Aussie romantic comedy with humour and heart in equal measure – Top End Wedding is the hottest Aussie export since Hugh Jackman.

An original and authentic romcom that is doesn't just use the Northern Territory as a pretty backdrop, Top End Wedding takes the popular beats of a swooning wedding movie, supplanting them into a striking setting while also weaving them into a poignant narrative about belonging, heritage and family.

Engaged couple Lauren (Miranda Tapsell) and Ned (Gwilym Lee) have set themselves the unenviable task of putting together a wedding in a mere 10 days. The smitten duo jet from Adelaide to Darwin to reunite with Lauren's parents, but upon arriving in the Northern Territory they find Lauren's mum has gone AWOL, with nothing but a brief post-it note left in her wake.

Zig-zagging across the picturesque Top End in search of Daffy (Ursula Yovich), Lauren begins a journey of self-discovery and introspection – one that leads her to examine her past, her roots and her connection with country.

Top End Wedding has crossover appeal that will woo audiences far and wide; it's a frantic wedding film, where zany friends and sneering rivals join forces to bring everything together, it's a winding road movie with lots of twists, turns and travelling through the Outback, and it's a compelling commentary on the contemporary indigenous experience and (re)forging a deep, meaningful to country.

It has a rich, tangible quality to it where the Top End itself plays a three-dimensional and breathing character of its own. And it has colourful characters – from the domineering boss who comes good to the raucous bridesmaids, a French helicopter pilot and crazy cousins.

If the first half feels fairly formulaic, then the second is where things forge a new path. Tapsell, who also serves as one of the screenwriters, delivers something truly special – her performance brilliantly hitting every note and emotional beat along the way.

Huw Higginson is another standout performer as Lauren's kind-hearted and heartbroken father. A running gag involving Chicago's 'If You Leave Me Now' and a kitchen pantry only gets funnier as the film goes on.

The Verdict: 8.5/10

Who doesn't love a good wedding? Sitting through Top End Wedding without a smile plastered on your face is nigh impossible – and while it might seem silly at times, there's a wholesome sincerity underneath that ties it all together.

Top End Wedding is in cinemas across Australia from Thursday May 2.

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