Yes, bloody yes, Lauren (Miranda Tapsell) exclaims after overly excited fiancé-to-be Ned (Gwilym Lee) bends down mid-sentence to ask her one simple question. Will you? Well I, too, say yes, bloody yes, save the date. May 2, 2019.
Top End Wedding opens hilariously with Lauren about to become the newest associate at her law firm – provided she overcomes a few hurdles to lock in a major deal and land some new clients. Ned’s day, however, isn’t so bright as he himself in the unemployment line after realises that being a prosecutor isn’t where his heart lies. It’s this realisation that leads to his sweet proposal, but his failure to disclose his dire predicament sets the film up for a amusing and often side-splitting road trip. The pair travel to Darwin to get the wedding planning started only to find that Lauren’s mum Daffy (Ursula Yovich) has walked out on her husband, Trevor (An in-form Huw Higginson). Together the soon-to-be-wed couple hit the road in Trev’s Mitsubishi Pajero in search of Daffy to be sure that she will be home in time for the big day.
Tapsell’s performance in Top End Wedding is one to be revered. Co-writers Tapsell and Joshua Tyler have created a character in Lauren that is consistently funny, authentic is great to spend time with and Tapsell has portrayed her perfectly. Miranda’s wide smile is also a great feature in the film, adding extra depth and warmth to key scenes.
Gwilym is also great as the goofy, lovable nice-guy Ned. He’s comical and at times he is super awkward but his love for Lauren is true, with it being clear that he really just wants her to be happy. On paper, Ned and Lauren make a great couple, but it’s Miranda and Gwilym’s chemistry that rings true, making their on-screen relationship really shine.
Huw Higginson’s performance as Trevor is just delightful. Broken hearted after Daffy walks out on him for reasons he can’t comprehend, Trevor expresses his sadness in the most hilarious way, one that brings a bit of extra charm to the film.
Speaking of Daffy, Ursula Yovich is also a winner. Her performance itself is as touching as it is heartbreaking and will reduce you to tears. Ursula is a wonderful actress; I particularly enjoyed her performance in a great little series from 2014 called The Gods of Wheat Street, so it was great to see her here. Kerry Fox also stars as Hampton, Lauren’s hard as nails boss who doesn’t take no for an answer or accept anything less than the best. Hampton is also on her own journey to learn how to open up and not be so darned stubborn. Dalara Williams, Elaine Crombi, and Shari Sebbens co-star as Laurens besties, they don’t all see each other all the time, but they come to the rescue when needed most.
Wayne Blair does a great job at the helm and after some time in the US he returned to Australia to make Top End Wedding and picks up where he left off with smash hit The Sapphires. Blair is clearly a capable director and is able to get the best out of key crew members. The cinematography by Eric Murray Lui is fantastic, it showcases the beautiful landscapes of the Northern Territory as well as any advertisement can. The music by David McCormack and Antony Partos is also a great feature and keep it incredibly upbeat.
Top End Wedding is exactly what the Australian film industry needs, from the laugh-out-loud jokes to the touching family moments it’s great fun. It’s a hilarious road trip rom-com that not only gets you in stitches but its sincerity also has the ability to touch your soul and really move you. So, save the date. May 2, 2019.
Director: Wayne Blair
Cast: Miranda Tapsell, Gwilym Lee, Kerry Fox
Writers: Miranda Tapsell, Joshua Tyler