Aussie movie we’ve been waiting for
YOU don't often hear the words "Australian" and "rom-com" together. Because, let's be honest, we're usually not great at them.
But Top End Wedding is a winner.
The homegrown movie, co-written and produced by star Miranda Tapsell, is a crowd-pleasing romp that's part rom-com and part road-trip movie. But what it really is, is a story about family, heritage and the bonds that never break.
Lauren (Tapsell) and Ned (Bohemian Rhapsody's Gwilym Lee) are two lawyers who live in Adelaide. When Ned proposes, the two decide to not wait to be married.
But Lauren has one condition, the wedding has to be in Darwin, where she's from.
They hop on a plane, but when they get there, she finds out from her dad Trevor (Huw Higginson) that her mum Daffy (Ursula Yovich) left some days ago.
Adamant she can't get hitched without her mum, Lauren and Ned hop in the four-wheel drive and get on the road to find her.
Their search takes them through the most beautiful parts of the Northern Territory and functions almost as a tourism ad - the stunning landscapes of Katherine Gorge, Arnhem Land, Kakadu and the Tiwi Islands pop off the screen as this mythical land that couldn't possibly exist, except that it does, and it's only a short plane trip away.
As Lauren and Ned make their way around the land, the "rom" part takes a back seat to the real soul of Top End Wedding, a story about belonging, to a land and to a people.
Lauren's mother left her home of Tiwi when she was young and never returned there, cutting Lauren off from her heritage and thousands of years of culture.
Lauren's rediscovery of that history is what gives Top End Wedding an elevated emotional resonance above your average rom-com.
Top End Wedding's commitment to showcasing Indigenous culture through music, dance and language really taps into the strength of Australia, which is that we are a country made of up different voices and different histories.
It really plucks those heartstrings. Don't be surprised if you get a little weepy.
Her heritage is what makes Lauren's story hers and not a facsimile of a generic Hollywood rom-com hero.
Top End Wedding has a fresh, authentic voice thanks to Tapsell's involvement, but also director Wayne Blair who's previously helmed The Sapphires.
Tapsell has serious star power, and her chemistry with Lee is very natural, very believable. That she's been working on this movie behind the scenes for five years shows through as a real labour of love.
The movie flows with an easy energy, and while it may be predictable because it follows many genre conventions, it's very sweet and funny, and it's definitely going to give you the feels.
Go out and support this Australian movie, not just because it deserves it but because you deserve it.
Top End Wedding is in cinemas today