Top End Wedding

April 18, 2019

Review, Theatrical, This Week 6 Comments

Top End Wedding is much, much more than just a fizzy, frolicking romantic comedy, though it’s certainly that too.
Top End Wedding - Still 1

Top End Wedding

Erin Free
Year: 2019
Rating: M
Director: Wayne Blair

Miranda Tapsell, Gwilym Lee, Kerry Fox, Huw Higginson

Distributor: Universal
Released: May 2, 2019
Running Time: 102 minutes
Worth: $17.00

FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

…Top End Wedding is much, much more than just a fizzy, frolicking romantic comedy, though it’s certainly that too.

It might feel incongruous to describe the sunny, diminutive Miranda Tapsell as a burgeoning powerhouse – with the connotations of ruthless ambition which that may entail – but that’s exactly what the actress, writer and producer is shaping up to be. A much loved player thanks to her roles on TV’s Love Child and Doctor Doctor, and a prominent figure in indigenous screen storytelling (The Sapphires, Redfern Now, Cleverman, Little J & Big Cuz), Tapsell now truly asserts herself with the big screen delight, Top End Wedding, on which she is unquestionably the driving force, weighing in as star, co-writer and associate producer. The film also mines details of Tapsell’s own life for its background, while her commitment to telling indigenous stories means that Top End Wedding is much, much more than just a fizzy, frolicking romantic comedy, though it’s certainly that too.

Tapsell stars as Lauren, whose warmth and ditziness have been no hindrance to her rapid rise in the corporate world. She’s in love with nice guy British lawyer, Ned (Bohemian Rhapsody’s Gwilym Lee), who pops the question after losing his job, and gets a big yes. The loved up pair set to planning their wedding on Lauren’s Northern Territory home turf, but there’s one problem: her mother has gone AWOL, leaving her dad a heartbroken mess, and putting their intended nuptials on hold. Ned and Lauren head off to Darwin, and then begin a frantic search to find the bride-to-be’s missing mum and get the wedding back on track.

With Tapsell and Lee a literal explosion of charm and chemistry (though Kerry Fox steals all her scenes as Lauren’s domineering boss), Top End Wedding delivers the same kind of commercial kick as director Wayne Blair’s debut feature, The Sapphires. Like that film, it unashamedly shoots for a big, broad audience in the mood for a good time, with its plentiful laughs, upbeat tunes, and Tourism Australia-worthy cinematography (Eric Murray Lui does truly stunning work here) and eye-popping Northern Territory backdrops. But within that warm-and-fuzzy outer package are threaded themes of cultural connection, the importance of family, and the essential ties that our indigenous peoples have with their geographical and spiritual homes. So characteristic of Miranda Tapsell as a talent with something to say, these finely wrought elements ground the film beautifully, and add much needed weight to its frothier moments. Bubbly but meaningful, Top End Wedding ingeniously has its (wedding) cake and eats it too.


  1. David O'Brien

    Sorry but I do not concur. Tapsell is lively and terrific and Kerry Fox delivers as always but the script often lets this film down. The character of Ned is an incompetent Pom and a bloody irritant. His dumbed down pommie idiot seems forced and unnecessary. Far better if he’d been a rough and tumble Aussie bloke with an ounce of wit. It seems the market was writing a script assembled by numbers to take in every possible class of inclusiveness. There are moments in the script that are straight from formula rather than character and they destroy credibility with Ned’s stupidity. Why do we wander all over the North when the guts of this movie are on the island?
    As a mix of drama and ethnodoco with an excess if travelogue, it has charms but the outcome is loaded with extras who clearly wonder what they’re doing there. The wedding is overdone and was clearly a community celebration that fails to translate to the screen. Cliches cannot be forgiven on ethnic terms, they remain cliches. For me, the film was forty minutes too long and I yearned for the credits. At risk of being a curmudgeon, it drags.

  2. Connor van vuuren

    Gwilym Lee is great in this, you don’t know what you’re talking about O’Brien

  3. Paul Brennan

    It’s a very funny film and will make a lot of people happy.If I had a cinema I would run it daily at 2pm for 6 months.

  4. Margot Paterson

    I saw it today and it never missed a beat. A real education about the Top End. David O’Brien if you think this film drags perhaps you never saw “Eyes Wide Shut”.

  5. John Forsyth

    I enjoyed this film as a frothy romantic comedy, but when I got home and thought about it I realised that Miranda and Co had given us much more than that. It was good to see the joyous reversal of stereotypes, deliberately making the white men slightly idiotic, while the black women were the ones with brilliance and common sense. The film also showed both races having equal problems with relationships, and it further showed the importance of family in indigenous culture and how that related to their deep love of their magnificent country. The only problem is how few critics have seen these undercurrents.

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