The Wedding Party is a quirky ensemble comedy-drama film that centers on the relationships of a dysfunctional Australian family.
Steve Thompson (Josh Lawson) has found himself in a spot of financial distress. In order to earn some quick cash and salvage his fledgling relationship with his true love Jacqui (Kestie Morassi), Steve agrees to marry Ana (Isabel Lucas), a Russian woman who has offered a sizeable amount of money to anyone willing to marry her so she can gain permanent residency in Australia. What was meant to be a secret sham wedding quickly becomes the attention of Steve’s entire family, who are all now involved in the planning of the wedding.
As the film progresses, we discover that it is not only Steve who is having relationship problems. His father Roger (Steve Bisley) is recently divorced; his brother Colin (Geoff Paine) is becoming increasingly estranged from his wife due to his secret fetishes; his sister Lisa (Nadine Gardner) is experiencing a female-specific ailment which is causing intimacy issues at home.
Those are only the basic parts of the overall story. With the multitude of characters presented in this film, director Amanda Jane manages to keep a tight grip on each individual character’s place in the development of the plot, without veering off, keeping the film’s focus in tact. A seemingly hard task that is executed correctly, as each of the relationships explored are unique, yet interconnected.
The overall acting in this film is of a reasonably high standard. Josh Lawson’s character Steve is borderline likeable. This is in part due to the fact that we are not given a deeper understanding of the character’s background and motivations (this is only explored in a short sequence at the start of the film). As such, it is at times hard to sympathise with our lead character. Isabel Lucas’s performance of the Russian lead Ana is seamless, but her character lacks any complexity. The standout performances come from the rest of the talented ensemble cast, who all manage to keep the film grounded and provide most of the comedy relief in the film.
The film has won several international and local film festival awards, mainly in the comedy categories. It recently was re-edited and had around 19 – 20 minutes removed from its original running time, which appears to have helped the film as it is nicely timed and the pacing keeps you engaged throughout the entire film.
As a pure comedy, it falls just short of bringing in the laughs. At times it feels as though some of the comedic set-up moments are cut right before the punch line. As a drama the film is not – dramatic enough. It does find a good balance between the two though, creating an overall enjoyable viewing experience.
Isabel Lucas received the Australian TV Week Logie Award for Best New Talent (April 18, 2004) and a Young Hollywood Award (Star of Tomorrow) in 2011.