Directed by Wayne Blair and written by Joshua Tyler and lead actress Miranda Tapsell, Lauren and Ned are engaged, they are in love, and they have just ten days to find Lauren’s mother who has gone AWOL somewhere in the remote far north of Australia, reunite her parents and pull off their dream wedding. Also starring: Gwilym Lee, Kerry Fox, Josh McConville, Julie Quick, Carmel Johnson, Tracy Mann, Matt Crook, Huw Higginson and Ursula Yovich.
Most people will admit they love a good cheesy rom-com, we can all use some mindless, cheerful entertainment every now and again and while that may be what you’re expecting to find with Top End Wedding, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn it has much more to offer. The writing creates a blend of silly and sincere, the comedy stylings are very typical and playful but alongside that is a meaningful story about tradition, family and heritage. It’s very interesting to have a romance story that isn’t entirely focused on the relationship of its leads, with so much of the film focused on Lauren’s (Tapsell) mother, it gives the film a broader appeal and relatability. It doesn’t forget to also make it about this couple getting married, but it’s smart enough to widen its focus so the story gets a fresher perspective. It holds your attention well, it’s constantly moving forward and has something to add, it’s a fun and emotional story.
Blair’s direction doesn’t feel too far out of the norm for what we know of romantic comedies but he does bring a great vibrancy, colour and energy to the film. It certainly helps that the locations are incredible and have a priceless production value in their natural beauty. It truly makes the most of what they have to offer, without ever removing itself very far from its characters. The editing work feels modern, keeps its pace going throughout and making sure there’s never a dull moment or too long lingering on a moment. It creates a great tone that simultaneously doesn’t take itself too seriously, is silly and light-hearted as well as authentic and moving.
Miranda Tapsell you may recognise from her memorable turn in The Sapphires, she has such a wonderful, strong, charismatic presence. She’s fantastic at bringing through big personalities and Lauren is no exception to that, she’s determined, motivated, bubbly and intelligent. Gwilym Lee’s Ned is a lot more of a run of the mill character but he does bring that adorably nerdy, clumsy, constantly putting his foot in his mouth persona that you can’t help but to like. Kerry Fox is reliable as always as the demanding boss who’s turned herself so far into her work, she doesn’t know anything else anymore. Huw Higginson is a great addition as Lauren’s father, he’s perfectly grumpy and his broken heartedness arriving in the form of hiding in a cupboard listening to If you Leave Me Now is surprisingly entertaining. The more unexpected addition is Jason Desantis’s Foxxy, he’s such a lively, open and honest personality, the introduction of his character is such a lovely way to show how accepting and open-minded their community is.
Top End Wedding is an unexpected delight, a fun romcom with a big heart and a genuine message about family and heritage. It’s the sort of film that would fit into the category of hidden gem, likely being filed away in a certain box because of its romantic nature when actually, given the chance, it has a lot to offer; as well as being a cheesy romcom. Miranda Tapsell leads a brilliant ensemble full of big personalities, charm and love. Any film that can make you laugh as much as it makes you cry is always worth watching, which is what you’ll find here.