Rachel Getting Married

"Very Good"

Rachel Getting Married Review


Anne Hathaway looks like a movie star, but more often than not acts like a studious, earnest head of the class. Rather than filtering characters through some kind of star persona or actorly invention, she does what is required with such technical precision that her performances lose any spark of spontaneity (that's why she didn't get any laughs playing Agent 99 in Get Smart; she somehow managed to play the straight woman role too straight).

But something happens in Jonathan Demme's Rachel Getting Married. Hathaway plays Kym, the black sheep of an upper-middle-class Connecticut family who has left rehab in time to attend her sister Rachel's wedding. This isn't simply a case of an actress obviously playing against type, although she clearly is. Hathaway teases her studiousness out into self-centered, self-destructive prickliness; Kym is like a teacher's pet, begging to be rewarded for her self-aware (but caustic and uncomfortable) humor, and her self-serious (yet somehow pompous) parroting of Narcotics Anonymous wisdom.

It's a tightly wound character, but playing her loosens Hathaway up, and she nails every self-involved gesture, down to the way a cigarette constantly dangles from Kym's lips, as if to extend as far as possible into others' space, a reminder that she's allowed this one addiction because she's been through so much worse. You may have discerned that Kym isn't remotely likable, but the wounded, weary contentiousness of her relationship with fed-up bride Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt) works up a lot of empathy.

The action is confined to a few simple locations over the course of the weekend, peppered with regular confrontations and the revelation (at least to the audience) of a dark secret. The narrative of Rachel Getting Married resembles a play, and not a terrific one. Demme seems to want an experience even more intimate, filming Jenny Lumet's script with handheld cameras, aiming for a home-movie texture. The result isn't always that kind of striking immediacy; sometimes, it's just a semi-verite movie supported by oddly stagy coincidences, like the identity of a man at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting, or the placement of a key dish in the kitchen.

The wedding rituals themselves fit Demme's aesthetic the best, because he runs his camera and allows us to see what a wedding guest would see: not one but four or five toasts, people who aren't formally introduced, and lots of musical performances. It's all very warm-hearted, but after awhile, the sheer volume and diversity of life-affirming music at this one little wedding begins to feel a little like an NPR festival curated by a famous movie director. Rachel's new husband Sidney is even played by Tunde Adebimpe of the band TV on the Radio; it's reasonably easy to imagine that Sydney is the guy from TV on the Radio, not only because of his parade of musician friends, but because the movie fails to supply him with another personality.

So it goes with many of the supporting characters, and this may be intentional, to keep the film's focus tight and compelling. Kym and Rachel are certainly well-drawn and beautifully played, as are their divorced parents; Bill Irwin and Debra Winger find exactly the right points of familial routine, making alliances and fractures utterly visible.

That kind of grace makes Rachel Getting Married involving, and worthwhile. But despite the sense that Demme himself is throwing the party, the movie itself never feels especially personal, and its thoughts on forgiveness and dysfunction are thorny and without a lot of depth (it also resembles an unfunny, more conventionally "likable" version of Margot at the Wedding). Lumet may yet write a terrific movie (or play); this one is a little too weepy, too circular. All of which, in the meantime, makes Hathaway's work all the more impressive: She's learned to run with her material, not just keep pace.

I thee wed!



Rachel Getting Married

Facts and Figures

Run time: 113 mins

In Theaters: Friday 31st October 2008

Box Office USA: $12.7M

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

Production compaines: Clinica Estetico

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Fresh: 162 Rotten: 29

IMDB: 6.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Neda Armian, ,

Starring: as Kym, as Rachel, as Walter / Bowtie Party Guest, Roslyn Ruff as Rosa, as Paul, as Carol, as Abby, as Quick Stop Cashier, Mather Zickel as Kieran, Tunde Adebimpe as Sidney

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

An unusually realistic teen movie, this drama gets deep under the skin of its characters,...

Bleed for This Movie Review

Bleed for This Movie Review

This is such a ripping true story that it can't help but grab hold of...

Moana Movie Review

Moana Movie Review

In a clear echo of Frozen, this Disney animated adventure centres on a fiercely independent...

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

The 2003 comedy Bad Santa is a holiday classic that skilfully mixes gross-out humour with...

Allied Movie Review

Allied Movie Review

There's a terrific script at the heart of this World War II thriller, with a...

A United Kingdom Movie Review

A United Kingdom Movie Review

Based on a powerful true story from the late 1940s, this drama is packed with...

Indignation Movie Review

Indignation Movie Review

Philip Roth's layered novels are a challenge for filmmakers (see also 2003's The Human Stain...

Advertisement
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

It's been five years since the last Harry Potter movie, and J.K. Rowling has been...

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Yet another bonkers thriller starring Nicolas Cage, this trashy crime comedy comes from director Paul...

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

"Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall" is a DVD...

Arrival Movie Review

Arrival Movie Review

This sci-fi drama has an enjoyably brain-bending plot that leaves the audience almost stunned with...

Elle Movie Review

Elle Movie Review

There's a boldly comical tone to this outrageous thriller that can't help but unnerve audiences...

100 Streets Movie Review

100 Streets Movie Review

A multi-strand drama set in London, this film is very nicely shot and acted, but...

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

It's been seven years since designer Tom Ford made a splash with his award-winning writing-directing...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.