Over the last couple decades, a rather pernicious stereotype has emerged about Australian cinema. A stereotype suggesting that our films are mired in miserabilia, more ‘artistically impressive’ than entertaining. While overstated, it’s not entirely unjustified, which makes a film like Ali’s Wedding a breath of fresh air.
It’s easy to imagine a film about the son of Iraqi refugees struggling to work his way out of an arranged marriage as a serious-minded drama. Thankfully, Ali’s Wedding isn’t that, opting instead for comedy. But don’t fret! Nor is this the kind of comedy that traffics in broad, pseudo-racist caricatures (Here Come the Habibs). In adapting his own life story – complete with a fake medical degree, a Saddam Hussein musical and deportation – writer/star Osamah Sami emphasises good-natured authenticity. There are jokes about tea ceremonies, for instance, that surely play far better to an Islamic audience than myself.
Ali’s Wedding is a delight. It’s far from the funniest comedy I’ve seen, or the most compelling drama. It’s plagued by little issues – the unconvincing casting of Don Hany as Sami’s father, or the occasional clumsiness balancing the film’s many subplots – that are rather inconsequential to the final film. More like this, Aussie film industry!