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Little white lies are a unique aspect of the human condition because there usually is never anything small or innocent about them. As most caring mothers eventually tell their children, ‘There is no such thing as a little white lie; all lies are lies.’ Mark Twain even attempts to introduce the notion of the good lie in his classic tale of Huckleberry Finn, but the reality is that regardless of the outcome or the intention, a lie is a lie. Ali’s Wedding weighs out this moral conundrum of the little white lie that exists within the human experience from the opening segment to the conclusion of this true story.
Ali (Osamah Sami) is the eldest son of a local Muslim cleric in the suburbs of Melbourne. Even though he loves his father, his role as the religious leader’s son adds to the pressure for him to succeed in medicine. However, Ali fails to get into medical school and he is unable to tell his family so he lies to them. This deception becomes the catalyst for a ripple effect that reverberates throughout the tight knit immigrant community and his life. This young man must determine what to do as this innocent lie turns into an insurmountable mountain of problems for Ali and his family.
Similar to what was achieved through the release of The Big Sick, Osamah Sami and Andrew Knight have delivered a new twist on the rom-com by placing it within the Muslim community. His story of young love and the moral challenges brought about by cultural expectations is an uncommon glimpse into the world of religion and the live of immigrants adjusting to a new way of life. Ali’s Wedding contains many of the trappings of this genre that make things predictable and reliant on quirky twists to drive the story forward, but the fact that this is a true story does provide something fresh for audiences.
What director Jeffrey Walker (Dance Academy: The Movie) was able to capture with this view into the Muslim and Arabic communities which was the humanity of this passionate group. The personal elements of the multiple family units provide the platform for exceptional comedy and drama. Due to the political structure and religious views of the world, this has been a community that has been marginalized in film. Walker is able to point to the heart of the families and show that we are all more alike than we might be willing to admit.
The strength of story and direction are supported by a relatively unknown, but talented cast. They may not be household names around the world but Australian television mainstays Don Hany and Frances Duca deliver a beautiful depiction of Ali’s Iraqi-born parents. Alongside a multitude of character actors who portray the rich Arabic heritage and the various countries represented in this local religious microcosm. These all provide the necessary cultural mix for the budding forbidden romance of Ali and Dianna. Actors Sami and Sawires’ performances and chemistry were the reasons that this film stood out from other rom-coms on the market this year.
From the innocent looks and the slight touch of their hands, their love provides the magical connection that should be the motivation for audiences to seek out and see this independent film gem.