Monday, October 27, 2008

Rachel Getting Married

Rachel Getting Married is an interesting film; while I don’t think the title quite explains the movie at the same time I really don’t think that you could name the film anything else. The name Rachel Getting Married evokes thoughts of romantic comedies and light hearted fare, but the film actually revolves around deep seeded trials, tribulations and demons that Rachel’s family has lived through; however, the entire film is propelled by one simple action – Rachel getting married.

At the beginning of the film we discover that Kym is just being released from rehab where she has been for quite awhile and her father and step-mother are taking her home for her sister Rachel’s wedding. Kym is a deeply troubled young woman who has been in and out of addictions and rehab for most of her young life. When she arrives home she has to maintain her desire to stay sober while dealing with the pressure she feels from her family, the pressure she puts on herself and the demons that plague her through every action she takes. The film explores the relationship between the sisters and their father and estranged mother and how they can go on when so much in their past tries to push them apart.

The way the story unfolds in Rachel Getting Married is one of the most organic story telling processes I’ve ever seen and fits perfectly with the way Jonathan Demme decided to shoot the film. Watching Rachel Getting Married feels like you are a fly on the wall in this families life until after the wedding. You learn things as characters learn things, watch as characters have different experiences, and share in every event that happens to Kym. No one lays out any information before the characters themselves bring it up to start or resolve a conflict and that leaves the audience to learn the families trials, choose sides over who they empathize with and more than anything feel things when the character feels them.

By choosing a naturalistic cinema verite style Demme lets the audience absorb the events at a slow steady pace and thus takes away what could be overdone elements of melodrama and replaces them with genuine human emotion. The best thing about this is that it shows that Demme trusts his audience enough to come to terms with what is happening on screen without forcing them to feel a certain way. He shows slowly and surely the casual linkage behind events and how no matter how we try some things can never solely be blamed on one individual or event, and he shows a family that is struggling with dealing with these things and yet still trying to love each other.

If awards season goes the way I think it might I would not be surprised to see Anne Hathaway get a nomination from SAG, the Globes, the Oscars or any combination of those shows. Her performance as Kym is amazing to the point where she pretty much disappears into the role and you forget you are watching a Hollywood starlet that the tabloids buzz about. Much praise has been given to her performance in this film and I do not think it is unwarranted.

Rachel Getting Married is a very good movie, and by the end you will feel like you attended Rachel’s wedding.

Director: Jonathan Demme
Writer: Jenny Lumet
Kym: Anne Hathaway
Rachel: Rosemarie DeWitt
Kieran: Mather Zickel
Paul: Bill Irwin
Carol: Anna Deavere Smith
Emma: Anisa George
Sidney: Tunde Adebimpe
Abby: Debra Winger

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