Whilst there’s no denying that Top End Wedding adheres to the romantic comedy stereotypes, playing out mostly as a fizzy, feel-good affair, the film’s lead star, co-writer and associate producer Miranda Tapsell assures the film scratches a deeper level than the surface simplicities by injecting her own life experiences into the proceedings, as well as showcasing her commitment to telling Indigenous stories.
Tapsell leads the charge as Lauren, a lawyer on the rise whose evident warmth and slight clumsiness haven’t hindered her ability to climb the corporate ladder; her no-nonsense boss (Kerry Fox) making it a point to note how much extra business Lauren has acquired for the firm. Sure, we can scoff at the cliches the film plants early on with Lauren’s endearing ditziness offsetting her superior’s ice-queen temperament, as well as the convenient plotting of her equally likeable boyfriend, Ned (Gwilym Lee, fresh from portraying Brian May in Bohemian Rhapsody), quitting his job and subsequently proposing marriage on the same day she earns a promotion, but they’re easily overlooked when its heart is in the right place.
With a 10-day window at their disposal – Tapsell and Joshua Tyler’s script creating the time frame off of a vacation clause in Lauren’s work contract – the loved-up newlyweds-to-be set the nuptials in Lauren’s home turf (the Northern Territory to be exact), only to find her mother (Ursula Yovich) has gone AWOL, leaving her dad (Huw Higginson) a confused, heartbroken mess and the wedding itself in limbo. In standard rom-com fashion, Lauren and Ned set off to find mother dearest, leaving the ceremony plans to Lauren’s dad and her wild bridesmaids (Elaine Crombie, Shari Sebbens and Dalara Williams).
Much like director Wayne Blair’s previous effort The Sapphires (which also showcased Tapsell and Sebbens), Top End Wedding aims for big commerciality with a healthy smattering of genuine laughs, an upbeat soundtrack, and truly gorgeous imagery of the Northern Territory as the film’s pleasing backdrop. And as mainstream and crowd-pleasing as the film’s ingredients may be, the importance of family and the cultural connection the Indigenous people have to their land both in a spiritual and geographical sense is what ultimately adds weight to this frothy, bubbly comedy.