Top End Wedding Review

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We recently saw Top End Wedding, and I have to admit I really enjoyed it. The script is well-written, and it’s directed by the same person as The Sapphires, another movie I enjoyed. It is nice to see a good movie (not heart-breaking, like Rabbit-Proof Fence, or the recent movie starring Sam Neill), with an Aboriginal lead.

It’s very Australian, and Aboriginal, and has a welcome lack of alarmingly thin bodies and expensive makeup. It’s nice to have a sense of reality, and real people taking part, and it helps that the lead actors are not only believable, but quite attractive. It’s also quite irreverent. The female lead is half-Aboriginal.

This is of course a rom-com, although as my friend says the setting (the vast Australian Outback) is an important element to the story. Of course there are various plot-holes, where one stretches the imagination, but to me one of the main ones is the sheer distance between places. There is a real fear of insufficient water, not enough fuel, and breakdowns, to say nothing of heat exhaustion. But let’s not let geographical distance get in the way of a good story.

I don’t think I am ruining anyone’s enjoyment by pointing out that the action starts in Adelaide, moves to Darwin, (I’ve been to both of those places), and then to Tiwi in the Tiwi Islands. Does anyone else remember a rather nice TV series set in the Tiwi Islands, a medical drama starring Toni Collette? In reality, one is charmed by the singing and dancing, but surely most young people would want to leave?

In Adelaide recently, we went to the Museum and Art Gallery, and I was very impressed by the Aboriginal artifacts on display, their intricacy,and people’s stories. In fact, I was greatly heartened by the entire exhibition.

In this movie the leads are quite different people, but are attracted to each other, and one can see why. They both find each other physically attractive (what’s not to like?) and while he senses her commitment and dedication to her work and her family (how about sending some of that my way?), and wants some of that, she admires his kindness and acceptance (in spite of them both being lawyers!)

There are plenty of challenges, of course, along with the humour and witty dialogue, which help to disguise the pain (of the relationship breakup between Lauren’s parents) and grief for Ned’s father’s sudden death.

But there is healing too, and in any good wedding, people put pain aside and have a good party. The interaction between Lauren’s mother and her own parents comprises several profoundly moving scenes, including Lauren’s role in the reconciliation.

The journeys are fascinating, although to my mind they don’t really capture the distances involved. Lauren and Ned have several adventures together but Lauren is very fortunate to find her mother eventually, in what is still a vast landscape. There is a very funny scene at the airport when Lauren tries to ring Ned and he fails to answer the phone. When the conversation does eventually take place, somehow it is on speaker-phone and everyone listens and claps. So, shades of Crocodile Dundee, perhaps, another famous Australian movie. This film also went to Kakadu National Park, although I don’t recall much Aboriginal presence in it.

That night, I heard the surprising election result – a conservative government had been returned to power, this in spite of polls and many Australians admiring Jacinda Ardern’s response to the tragedy in Christchurch, and a poll naming her as preferred Prime Minister of Australia. One is reminded again that most countries have both wonderful and terrible attributes. Why is it that right-wing governments almost always narrowly win elections, when so many of us have a social conscience, and are increasingly alarmed at the disparity between great wealth and huge poverty?

The wedding of Ned and Lauren is the crowning moment of the film. It does take place, in an against-all-odds moment, with singing, dancing and great spirituality. One wishes these two a good life. They certainly took some risks, but their love and their wedding make for a great story. They should have some interesting conversations together!

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