ALI’S WED­DING

Empire (Australasia) - - Contents -

It’s only the best Aussie comedy since The Cas­tle, that’s all.

DI­REC­TOR Jef­frey Walker

CAST Osamah Sami, Don Hany, He­lana Sawires, Rod­ney Afif, Robert Rabiah, Rod­ney Afif

PLOT Af­ter fak­ing his HSC results to im­press fa­ther Mahdi (Hany), a Mus­lim cleric, Ali (Sami) sets off a chain of lies that in­cludes study­ing medicine at uni and be­gin­ning a se­cret ro­mance — de­spite an im­pend­ing ar­ranged mar­riage.

AUS­TRALIAN CIN­EMA­GO­ERS, it’s time to check your prej­u­dices at the door (pos­si­bly in more ways than one). Although our at­ti­tude over the years to­wards home­grown films has un­for­tu­nately steered to­ward wary scep­ti­cism — some­times even open hos­til­ity — it’s no rea­son to dis­miss ev­ery Aussie film that sees re­lease. And Ali’s Wed­ding — hands down one of the great­est Aus­tralian films to come along in years and a rom­com that pulls off the in­creas­ingly rare trick of be­ing both hi­lar­i­ously funny and gen­uinely mov­ing — de­serves not just your at­ten­tion, but swathes of it that will re­ward its bril­liance with abun­dant box of­fice suc­cess.

In­cred­i­bly, the film — which is packed with al­most too far-fetched to be­lieve in­ci­dents — is based on true events from the life of Aus­tralian ac­tor/writer/co­me­dian Osamah Sami, who co-wrote the Awgie-win­ning screen­play with ven­er­a­ble Aus­tralian screen­writer An­drew

Knight (Hack­saw Ridge, Rake, Jack Ir­ish, Full Frontal, Fast For­ward and The D Gen­er­a­tion). To­gether the pair have crafted a script that hits all the fa­mil­iar rom­com beats, but in the most re­ward­ing and re­fresh­ing way pos­si­ble — the film has such a big, awk­ward, warm beat­ing heart that you can’t help but leave the cinema with a goofy smile plas­tered across your mug (and likely a tear or two in the cor­ner of your eye). It’s a hum­ble film that feels like a small mir­a­cle.

The story re­volves around young Ali (Sami), the son of a highly re­spected, kind and well-liked Mus­lim cleric who only wants to live up to his dad’s ex­pec­ta­tions and es­cape his lofty shadow. This man­i­fests it­self as ly­ing about his HSC results to make it ap­pear as though he has the grades to get into med­i­cal school, which he goes ahead and stud­ies at re­gard­less of the fact he’s not even en­rolled. Ap­pear­ing to be on his way to be­com­ing a suc­cess­ful doc­tor, Ali’s stand­ing and el­i­gi­bil­ity within the Mus­lim com­mu­nity sky­rock­ets, and soon he finds him­self em­broiled in an ar­ranged mar­riage with Yomna (Maha Wil­son), the daugh­ter of Haj Karim (Afif), one of Mahdi’s most fer­vent fol­low­ers. Fur­ther com­pli­cat­ing matters is Ali’s at­trac­tion to fel­low Mus­lim and (le­git) med­i­cal stu­dent Dianne (a won­der­fully witty He­lana Sawires), who Ali con­vinces to marry him (a six-week mar­riage, it should be said, due to a sup­posed loop­hole Ali dis­cov­ers in Is­lamic law). Things ob­vi­ously be­gin to un­ravel for the sweet and hap­less Ali, but not be­fore his com­plex list of prob­lems es­ca­late.

De­spite the many laugh out loud mo­ments — Ali play­ing the lead in the elab­o­rate stage play Sad­dam: The Mu­si­cal; Ali ex­press­ing his op­ti­mism at find­ing act­ing work by sun­nily stat­ing “They al­ways need us to play ter­ror­ists!” — there are touch­ing mo­ments be­tween Ali and his fa­ther Mahdi, and mo­ments of heart­break and tragedy that are treated with sen­si­tiv­ity. The depic­tion of the Mus­lim com­mu­nity in the film is also one of the film’s great ac­com­plish­ments: although a group that have been de­monised and rou­tinely pre­sented neg­a­tively in the me­dia, the film opens the door and ex­poses the quirks, hu­man­ity and com­mon­al­i­ties that are present but rarely touched upon in public fo­rums. It’s a much-needed fresh perspective, and one that is han­dled with great love and af­fec­tion — an ac­co­lade that can be ap­plied to this tri­umphant film as a whole.

JAMES JEN­NINGS

VER­DICT Quite sim­ply, Ali’s Wed­ding is the best Aussie comedy since The Cas­tle. Full of heart, wit and great per­for­mances, it’s an in­cred­i­ble achieve­ment and a credit to all in­volved.

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