It was the Aussie musical film The Sapphires, about four indigenous singing divas, that first brought Miranda Tapsell to the big screen as the sparky younger sister Cynthia.
Turns out Tapsell’s not only a great actor and singer, but has writing and producing chops too, proven in her new romantic-comedy Top End Wedding.
As an associate producer and a co-writer on the screenplay, Tapsell collaborated on this film with director Wayne Blair (The Sapphires) to bring another authentic and comical Australian Outback story to life.
Tapsell takes on the lead role of Lauren Ford, an up-and-coming executive in Adelaide, who has one of the best days of her life when she is both promoted at work, and proposed to by her boyfriend, Ned (Gwilym Lee). Ned is a disenfranchised lawyer who is trying to find his true calling, and asks Lauren for her hand in marriage while trying to find a new beginning.
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Due to the timing of the announcement, Lauren’s boss gives her only 10 days to get married and then get back to work.
Since the young businesswoman comes from an indigenous Australian background, she decides the wedding must occur in her hometown of Darwin in Australia’s ‘Top End’. Lauren wants her parents to walk her down the aisle and to bless her marriage to Ned, who comes from a white Australian background.
Upon her arrival home, Lauren discovers that her parents have been going through difficult times, and her mother, Daffy (Ursula Yovich), has gone missing. Realising the importance of her family being part of the wedding, Ned takes Lauren on a journey across the Northern Territory to try and find her mum.
The adventure unearths aspects of the couples’ past and heritage, which delivers painful, comedic and heart-warming moments that will test their resolve to go through with the wedding.
Outback Landscape a Stunning Canvas for a Heartfelt Story
Together, Tapsell and Blair utilise the geographic and political landscape of Australia as a canvas to address many of the topics influencing modern society. The beauty of the Northern Territory provides a fresh perspective for this genre. The vast, extraordinary and sunbaked landscapes of this unfamiliar area of the world offer a vibrant colour palette, and light that is not usually associated with Australian cinema.
Even though the story addresses the challenges related to marriage and racial tensions, Blair manages to use the beauty of the culture and land to retain the romantic and comedic aspects of the style of the film. Daffy and Lauren Ford’s rediscovery of their Tiwi Islander heritage is handled respectfully, while still providing the humorous side of cultural clashes.
“A welcome option for those looking for a bit of romance, a few opportunities to cry, and an excuse to laugh out loud in the cinema.”
The script interweaves the element of self-discovery in with the value that each culture has for marriage. The multi-generational elements provide some of the most endearing components of the film, showing how reconciliation is essential in aspects of life.
Tapsell’s script does fall into the trap of trying to address too many contemporary issues. The scenes that involve her hen’s night, and statements on the transgender debate, cause unnecessary distractions for the overall heart of the story and make this film less accessible to a broader audience.
Despite being a less-than-perfect journey through the Outback though, it will provide a welcome option for those looking for a bit of romance, a few opportunities to cry, and most importantly an excuse to laugh out loud in the cinema.
Top End Wedding will capture the hearts of Australians and provides a beautiful reason to book a trip to the Northern Territory.
Reel Dialogue: The Beauty of Marriage
The beauty of the landscape of Top End Wedding has an Eden-like quality and the multi-generational marriages open the door to considering the inception of mankind and marriage.
From the beginning of time, marriage was meant to bring the physical, spiritual and emotional aspects of humanity together, enabling two people to live out the words stated in the first book of the Bible, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.’
The beautiful gift of marriage finds its origins in God’s story and is a human bond that needs a lifetime of commitment and adaptation for growth. Even with the excitement of the ‘wedding day,’ the real magic occurs as a couple grows closer throughout the years.
Each of the marriage relationships in Top End Wedding depicts the peaks and valleys of this connection and the importance of investment in the lives of husbands and wives.
Where do you go in the Bible to find answers on the topic of marriage?
Genesis 2:20-24, Proverbs 19:14, Matthew 14:4-6, 1 Corinthians 7, Ephesians 5