Top End Wedding
A romantic comedy wouldn’t be a romantic comedy without an obstacle or two to overcome on the road to happily ever after. In this respect, Wayne Blair’s Top End Wedding is no different to other rom-coms. Adelaide-based lawyers Lauren (Miranda Tapsell) and Ned (Gwilym Lee) decide to marry in her hometown of Darwin. When they arrive in the top end, Lauren’s father, Trevor (Huw Higginson) informs them that Daffy (Ursula Yovich), Lauren’s mum, took off a few days ago. Lauren and Ned hit the road, with just ten days to find Daffy and say ‘I do’.
Blair, who directed 2012’s The Sapphires, knows how to entertain. There are plenty of laughs in Top End Wedding, slapstick moments and quirky supporting characters. But where Top End Wedding differs from other romantic comedies is in its formidable sense of place. Lauren’s Indigenous heritage takes centre stage as her search for her mother provides a deeper connection with Country, culture, and ultimately herself. Lauren and English-born Ned’s road trip takes them through the spectacular landscapes of Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge and Kakadu (the film was made with the support of Tourism NT), eventually arriving at Daffy’s birthplace, the Tiwi Islands. It’s a part of Australia most of us know little about, and seeing it expands our understanding of Indigenous culture on screen. Tapsell, who co-wrote the screenplay, is a Larrakia woman who grew up around Kakadu, and her knowledge of these places and their peoples gives Top End Wedding an authentic voice, vividly reinforced by the inclusion of Indigenous languages, music, and dance.
Top End Wedding is a film about belonging. Homesickness runs from mother to daughter and speaks to a powerful yearning for reconciliation – within a family, and within the nation. Tapsell and Blair have created a rom-com with emotional weight. You’ll laugh and cry.