It's early into 2007, and I've already got one contender for film of the year. Sione's Wedding from New Zealand has this impeccable charm to it, and it's been a delightful surprise watching this at only the one hall it is currently screening at.
I suppose most guys at one point or another have been "brothers" during wedding ceremonies, either to shield the groom from pranks, or to actually put him through one of your own. Sione (Pua Magasiva) is getting married, and the last thing he wants is his friends from his ex-brotherhood "Duckrockers" gang (check out that hand signal!) ruining his big day with their madcap antics, things like shagging the bridesmaid in the bridal car, or drinking until piss drunk.
The focus therefore is on the quartet of Albert the respectable office insurance worker (Oscar Kightley, who also co-wrote the script), Michael the courier guy (Sione's brother) blessed with good looks, a hot bod and routine womanizing ways (Robbie Magasiva, brother of Pua in real life as well, who will also star in an upcoming movie co-produced by Mediacorp Raintree Pictures called The Tattooist), Stanley (Iaheto Ah Hi) who is infatuated with the voice of Latifah, a girl whom he only rarely communicated over phone-chats, but yet to meet up in real life, and Sefa the non-commital type of guy who frequently ditches his girlfriend to attend parties with the Duckrockers (played by Shimpal Lalisi).
Their dilemma comes in the form of the community pastor, who banned them from Sione's wedding, unless they can prove themselves to be responsible in their actions and not spoil the wedded couple's day. And with the counter-proposal by the guys, they want to prove that if they turn up with committed dates, they should curtail their nonsense, and be allowed entry. So a deal has been made, but the problem is, these guys actually are your usual slackers, and have immense difficulty in living up their end of the bargain.
I think that every guy could identify with one or more of the buddies here, never mind if they're Kiwis, as relationship issues are always universal. You have the shy type, the one who can snag one night stands at the snap of his fingers, the one who refuses to spend more time with his loved one and prefers time out with the boys, the one who's always fantasizing that his online counterpart is a hot blonde chick with a killer bod, and so on. You can slap them with caricature labels, but to do so will be unfair, as the actors take pains to ensure their characters are believable and realistic, and delivered on their performances.
But the mood's not always serious - this is actually one heck of a fine comedy! The dialogue lines are extremely witty and at times subtle, and there are many well timed humourous moments that will catch you off guard, balanced nicely with plenty of heart warming scenes. Rare are movies these days which offer a healthy balance of the two, and it makes Sione's Wedding very refreshing to watch, never boring at all. While you can see certain subplots developing in a certain way because of familiarity, rest assure that the delivery in this movie is excellent enough to offer its own take on these deja vu development, especially the one involving Princess (the beautiful Maryjane McKibbin-Schweke) or Tania (Madeline Sami).
Filmed in Auckland, and accompanied with an awesome, if seldom heard, soundtrack, Sione's Wedding is a must watch for those in love, relationships or attended that quirky wedding or two. The characters are lovable, the issues real, and you'll get a glimpse of how a Samoan wedding gets conducted. A much much mature version of The Wedding Crashers two years ago. Two thumbs up, a must watch!