It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world. The events depicted in Ali’s Wedding, the new Australian film and Muslim rom-com are based on true events. Unfortunately. This comedy is a funny and vibrant look at life in Australia for a family of Middle Eastern immigrants and like Looking For Alibrandi, The Family Law and Acropolis Now, it is another strong voice in the chorus of individuals living in multicultural Australia.
This film is the feature debut for Jeffrey Walker (Angry Boys). It is written by Andrew Knight (The Water Diviner) and Osamah Sami. It’s a story that is based on the latter’s award-winning memoir, Good Muslim Boy. The plot to this film is at times completely absurd and ridiculous but quite often this is the actual truth (stick around for the credits to see the photographic evidence if you don’t believe me.)
Sami also stars here as Ali, a charming and well-meaning character. Ali is the son of a much-admired and respected imam (Don Hany.) For years Ali was referred to as “Doctor” so when he sits the medical entrance exam there are lot of people with big expectations for him to do well. But things don’t go according to plan. A rival at Ali’s local mosque passes with flying colours so Ali feels even more pressure to perform.
Ali fails the exam but on a whim he tells the community he scored a very high score. This lie is the catalyst for even more untruths and things soon spiral completely out of control. Ali begins to believe his own lies and keeps up the pretence of attending university classes even though he isn’t an enrolled student.
The “acceptance” of Ali into medical school also makes him a prime candidate for an arranged marriage (does this sound like The Big Sick to you?) But Ali is actually falling in love with an intelligent medical student of Lebanese-Australian extraction named Diane (a stand-out, Helana Sawires.) Ali’s parents arrange a marriage between their son and another Muslim girl. So Ali could have stuck with the marriage and left his parents none the wiser but he grapples with what is the right thing to do i.e. follow his head or his heart.
The script here is quite episodic in nature. This is a story that varies a lot in tone. At one point there is a scene about a family member dying while another scene is quite funny and involves some miscommunication with some American customs officials. Ali’s Wedding is not the kind of comedy that offers a laugh a minute and instead is one that is occasionally peppered with some hijinks and tomfoolery. It’s a story that is educational about the realities of life for Muslims living in Australian and more often than not there are things that we can all relate to, irrespective of our backgrounds (for example: having to adhere to family traditions, feeling the weight of pressure from your family and your peers, etc.)
Ali’s Wedding is an enjoyable romantic comedy that is chaotically authentic and fun. It’s a story that features a group of likeable characters, some upbeat storylines and a plot that is all over-the-shop and doesn’t fit into a neat box but that’s also part of its charm. Ali’s Wedding doesn’t pretend to be anything other than true to itself and at the end of the day it’s a warm and entertaining film with a big heart.
Review Score: THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Ali’s Wedding opens in Australian cinemas on August 31st.