Film review ‘TOP END WEDDING’ by Nick Gardener from ‘Built For Speed’

Top End Wedding mixes a typically quirky and erratic feel-good Aussie rom-com with an occasionally moving story of personal and cultural discovery.

The Sapphires, Redfern Now and recently Get Krackin’s Miranda Tapsell and Brian May from Bohemian Rhapsody, Gwilym Lee, star as a lawyer couple, Lauren and Ned, who are about to marry. Determined to have her family present, Lauren arranges to have the wedding in Darwin. There, however, the couple discover that Lauren’s mother Daffy (Ursula Yovich) has run off and her father Trevor (Huw Higginson) is in a depressed funk that causes him to lock himself in a cupboard and listen to Chicago. This provides a convenient excuse to turn the film into a road movie as Lauren and Ned trek across the Top End and the Tiwi Islands in search of Daffy.

As a comedy, Top End Wedding is hardly a work of startling originality. As much as Australia’s top end, Director Wayne Blair has situated the film in that fanciful, vividly-coloured Muriel/ Priscilla world of broad but gentle gags and quirky Aussie stereotypes. There aren’t many show stopper gags but Top End Wedding bubbles along amiably with only a couple of flat spots.

More impressive are the stories of Lauren discovering her cultural roots in the Top End and Tiwi Islands and the touching subplot about her mother seeking reconciliation from her parents.

Miranda Tapsell is typically charming but appropriately ballsy as Lauren while Gwilym Lee may not be quite ready to usurp the Hugh Grant bumbling Brit throne but is still charming and funny as the awkward groom Ned. Huw Higginson is a little too typically quirky Aussie, though and his signature gag of retreating to the cupboard becomes a little tiresome. The revelation, however, is Ursula Yovich as Lauren’s mother who brings a surprisingly effecting dramatic presence to her role.

The exploration of Lauren’s family also sees her connect with the land so there’s some wonderful vision of the Northern Territory including Kakadu as well as the Tiwi Islands.

Aided by some sprightly tunes, Top End Wedding is a mostly fun, charming, occasionally emotional, if at times fluffy, addition to the Aussie wedding film canon.

Nick’s rating: ***

Genre: Romantic comedy.

Classification: M.

Director(s): Wayne Blair.

Release date: 2nd May 2019.

Running time: 102 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.


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