Review by Sean Boelman
Directed by Wayne Blair (The Sapphires), Top End Wedding is a cute new romantic comedy told from a fresh and unique perspective. A bit overlong but still mostly entertaining and often very adorable, even if the plot of the film itself is formulaic, there is much more substance to this than most movies of the genre.
The film follows a recently-engaged couple that have decided to get married in a hurry, only for their plans to be thrown askew when the bride-to-be’s mother goes missing, sending them on a search to find her and themselves. Ultimately, as is the case with many rom-coms, the direction in which the movie is heading is immediately obvious, but there is still plenty to enjoy in the script.
The only thing that works against this film is lackluster pacing. Although there are enough laughs to be found to keep the movie moving, this story could have been told more effectively in a mere ninety minutes instead of the extended runtime it is given. The film particularly loses its luster in the third act. What could have easily been the emotional crux of the movie is instead extremely underwhelming.
That said, the character development in the film is relatively strong. Thanks to the focus on her indigenous background, the protagonist is a very compelling and interesting character. Her love interest isn’t as well-written as she is, but the rest of the supporting characters offer some solid subplots, even if they aren't fully explored.
On a thematic level, the movie is all about the protagonist trying to find her identity. Her quest to find her mother mirrors her mother’s quest of self-discovery, allowing the film to explore the indigenous culture at the center of the story. Since the movie comes from this underrepresented angle, it manages to stand out despite the otherwise run-of-the-mill story.
The cast of the film is also very strong. Miranda Tapsell, who also co-wrote the script, obviously has a great deal of passion for this role, and it is infectious. Her comedic delivery is excellent and she does a solid job of handling the emotional moments as well. Additionally, she has very good chemistry with co-star Gwilym Lee, who is charming on his own merits.
In terms of execution, the movie is mostly fine, although also conventional. It’s somewhat disappointing that the filmmakers didn’t end up doing more with the setting with which they were working. It isn’t often that a film like this is set in the Aboriginal lands of Australia, so it would have been nice to see more done with this. Still, the movie is entirely competent.
Top End Wedding is a likable romantic comedy, and despite its issues, there are a lot of really good things happening in it. This film is absolutely worth checking out thanks to the unique perspective from which it is told.
Top End Wedding is now available on VOD.