Weddings in movies aren’t generally known as easygoing events. Such is the case with Top End Wedding, a film about a young woman discovering the importance of family, both chosen and blood. It’s a heartwarming and romantic film that links a modern couple with their family history, exploring Australia in the process.
Lauren (Miranda Tapsell) and Ned (Gwilym Lee) live in Adelaide and are much like any other young professional couple, both lawyers working in private (Lauren) and public (Ned) practice. Within 24 hours, they experience major life events — Lauren gets promoted, Ned quits his job and the pair gets engaged (even though Ned fails to mention he is now unemployed). They decide to forgo a long engagement and gleefully pack their bags and their cute dog. They head north to the “top end” of Australia to get married in the place where Lauren grew up with her Aboriginal mother and white father. There’s only one problem while they’re there — Lauren’s mother has gone missing.
So begins an epic road trip, with Lauren and Ned making to the road to find and bring back her mom, with only a cryptic note to go on. The film never takes itself too seriously, and conflict is fairly minimal and generally quickly resolved. Outside of lying about his lack of employment, Ned is just about the perfect boyfriend. He pushes Lauren to go find her mom, helps piece together clues, cooking amazing food from scratch, and plans a romantic lunch on a scenic overlook complete with flower petal path for no reason. It’s a bit of an eye roll in what is mostly your quintessential sweet and fun romantic comedy.
More than just a wedding story, Top End Wedding is a film about family and rediscovering your roots. As Lauren finds out more about her mom’s estranged family, her world expands to include a family and culture she never knew. It’s handled deftly and realistically by director Wayne Blair while keeping the tone light enough to keep you laughing and crying. The supporting characters are familiar tropes — the loud best girlfriends, the demanding boss, a bumbling father, and uptight mother-in-law — but the center of the story is still Lauren, her fiancee, and her mother. All told, it’s a heartwarming film that sees Lauren connecting her past with her future, without having to forgo one or the other. And like any good Shakespeare comedy, it ends with a wedding full of laughter and neat happy endings.