Monday, May 27, 2019

Top End Wedding - SIFF 2019 Movie Review

The Movie: Top End Wedding

The Director: Wayne Blair

The Cast: Miranda Tapsell, Gwilym Lee, Kerry Fox, Huw Higginson, Ursula Yovich, Shari Sebbens

The Story: Lauren and Ned are engaged, they are in love, and they have just ten days to find Lauren's mother who has gone AWOL somewhere in the remote far north of Australia, reunite her parents and pull off their dream wedding.

The Review:
After watching this movie, a friend and I had an opportunity to sit and chat about it and the first thoughts we had were the delight we felt over a movie that perfectly delivered on every promise it set out to make. The trailer says this movie is funny, it is heart warming, it is beautiful, it is an adventure, and it will leave you wiping emotions off your cheeks by the time it's over. Ultimately, we happily agreed that this movie is all of that and more.

First let me say that Miranda Tapsell is an absolute delight to watch on screen. Her personality jumps off the screen and lights up every moment with a performance that is so incredibly likable and so much fun, everyone in the audience will want to be the one her character is walking down the aisle to marry. The whole movie I kept thinking, why is this woman not a big star making blockbuster hits around the globe. She certainly is capable. Just watching her absolutely nail the Janet Jackson dance routine was enough for me. Seriously. It's amazing and so is she.

The cast that was assembled around Ms Tapsell, who also wrote the story as she was planning her own real life wedding, seemed to be equally up to the task with a brilliant mix of established stars and local (to Australia) performers including a beautiful roster of indigenous people spread throughout the entire production. The authenticity of the movie, filmed entirely in Australia, is also accentuated by the beautiful backdrops and lush landscapes that the characters live in and travel through over the course of the story.

This endless stream of jaw dropping visuals adds a lot of depth to Lauren (Tapsell) and Ned's (Gwilym Lee) journey which takes them deeper and deeper into indigenous lands where they begin to discover things about themselves and their relationships that otherwise never would have come to light. I really enjoyed Gwilym Lee's performance as the fish out of water fiance who was trying his hardest at every possible turn to save the day while also keeping their relationship afloat.

The story needed an engaging personality to hold their own next to Tapsell and Gwilym did about as fine of a job as anyone could have hoped for. The duo actually reminded me a lot of Salma Hayek and Matthew Perry in Fools Rush In which is one of my favorite rom-com's of all time. Individually, their likability factor is top notch but working together, that chemistry was just off the charts.

There are so many threads to this story all of which seem to involve relationships in some form or another and Tapsell as writer and Wayne Blair as director weave them all together perfectly and come up with a way to pay all of it off by the time the credits roll. One of the best story lines of the movie is Lauren's father played by Huw Higginson who we first see as a hard nosed grump of a man although we quickly learn there is a lot more going on behind that protective demeanor.

I know I've touched on this a bit already but I have to say again that this movie is absolutely beautiful to look at in so many different ways and, if you have the chance, you have to see it on the big screen in a movie theater. The locations are put on film in such colorful and vibrant ways that whoever is in charge of Australia's tourism efforts should just show this to everyone who is even thinking about taking a trip down under.

See the source image
Nitmiluk National Park

The Verdict:
Top End Wedding is one of the most fun and satisfying movie going experiences I have had in quite some time. It is enjoyable, it is likable, it is emotional, and it just makes you feel good about life. Yes, I had tears during the movie, but they were the happiest of happy tears and it was wonderful.

Top End Wedding is an official selection of the 2019 Seattle International Film Festival.

To see more reviews, interviews and festival coverage please go to:

TwoOhSix at SIFF 2019

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