'Top End Wedding': The Must-See Aussie Rom-Com Of The Year
A film with so much warmth you'll laugh until you cry until you laugh again.
When Lauren's boyfriend Ned proposes to her, he makes her promise the engagement won't be drawn out. Just hours later she rushes into their apartment to tell him they have ten days to fly to the Northern Territory to get married. That is until they get there and find Lauren's mum has left her dad and no one seems to know where she is.
Written, starring and executive produced by Miranda Tapsell, Top End Wedding is the most typical rom-com you could expect -- right up until it isn't.
Tapsell's story reveals itself slowly, rather focusing on the relationship dynamic between Lauren and her soon-to-be husband Ned, played by Gwilym Lee, begins to transform. This is not a typical story about a couple trying to get married, full of adorably funny hijinks -- though that's definitely all there -- but so much more.
Lee, fresh off starring in Bohemian Rhapsody, said when the script for Top End Wedding arrived he had never read anything like it.
The film seems to fracture away from being a conventional rom-com that follows the journey of our gorgeous couple to the NT, and opens up to a beautiful story of returning to your roots, celebrating heritage, family and -- above all else -- love.
Tapsell told 10 daily that when she and co-writer Joshua Tyler were both teaching acting they would discuss rom-coms. When Josh revealed that he had been to where she had grown up in the Northern Territory, they began thinking about setting their own film there.
"When people go to the Territory they always complain about the heat and how expensive it is," Tapsell said adding that she wanted to show a different side to where she grew up. Not only to an international audience who most likely wouldn't have travelled to the Territory but to Aussies who also haven't been.
"The important thing, particularly with indigenous stories, is that it's really important to see that we're not a monolith," Tapsell said in a statement, "this community is very multifaceted, there's lots of intersections."
Tapsell does this through each character's own story, as well as showcasing the diverse and stunning land. The film takes our lovebirds on a madcap road trip of sorts across Darwin, Katherine, Kakadu National Park and the Tiwi Islands, the country itself becomes an integral character.
Tapsell explained that with each location the production communicated with the Traditional Owners, and was formally invited to shoot in some locations many people will never be able to access.
The film had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival where Tapsell said she imagined a lot of the humour would have gone over the heads of the locals, but was surprised to find they picked up on things she had assumed would only resonate with Aussies.
Similarly, touring the film and seeing how audiences react in different parts of Australia was an experience in itself, with different audiences picking up different jokes and references depending on their city.
The charm of Top End Wedding doesn't solely rest on Tapsell's shoulders, although through her performance the movie absolutely finds its heart and soul, with a stellar supporting cast that truly makes you feel like you're part of the family.
Alongside Tapsell and Lee, Top End Wedding stars Kerry Fox, Ursula Yovich, Huw Higginson, Shari Sebbens, Dalara Williams and Elaine Crombie. Each brings a heavy dose of light -- Sebbens, Williams and Crombie as Lauren's bridesmaids are truly inspired and the three best friends you can only yearn for.
It's a film that will make you laugh, cry, laugh while crying and want to make you call your parents, and to see a film so joyous set in Australia is only an added bonus.