Fade in. A man dressed in a crisp tuxedo is engaged in a ‘high speed pursuit’ with police. His getaway vehicle? A tractor. The man desperately shouts his apologies to the bemused officers, but persists with his attempted getaway. A title card flashes on the screen: “A true story, unfortunately”. I was hooked.
Hailed as “the first Muslim rom-com”, ALI’S WEDDING tells the true story of young Melbourne-based man, Ali, whose little white lies spiral out of control as he attempts to please his family/community and stay true to his Islamic faith – whilst also staying true to himself. It sounds serious, but don’t be fooled! ALI’S WEDDING is a lovingly produced, tongue-in-cheek portrayal of Melbourne’s Muslim migrant community.
Punctuated by warm and fuzzy absurdity reminiscent in feel to THE CASTLE, ALI’S WEDDING both strips away – and plays up to – Muslim stereotypes: At one point Ali voices his desire to run away to Hollywood (“they always need people like us to play the terrorists!”). The mosque’s theatrical troupe are mistakenly arrested en route to perform their musical comedy about Saddam Hussein, after passionate text messages are traced from their phones about “the bombers” – in reality meaning Essendon Football Club.
The film’s star (Osamah Sami) cowrote the screenplay, which is based on his memoir Good Muslim Boy. So, essentially, Sami is playing himself… in a movie about himself… written by himself. This personal investment is evident. It is clear in the storytelling that Sami loves both his religion and Australia. Refreshingly, racism from Anglo-Aussies doesn’t feature. Ali’s best friends are Asian, Arab and Anglo, providing delightful opportunity for banter between the three who clearly respect, but do not always understand, eachother’s cultures.
ALI’S WEDDING is very cleverly written, succeeding at being both respectful, and comically critical, of the (sometimes controversial) Muslim religious parameters. Well steered by new-to-film director Jeffrey Walker, the film manages to avoid being heavy handed in its message, and offers wide appeal to Atheists, Christians, Buddhists and Muslims alike! The casting is great, with likeable characters portrayed convincingly by relatively unknown actors, and the soundtrack is delightfully quirky.
ALI’S WEDDING: It offers genuine laugh out loud moments, and left my heart literally feeling warmer. It’s a well made little Aussie flick that deserves a much bigger audience then it is likely to get.
I rate it 8/10.