Gone in a blink and cleaning up awards nominations, Rachel Getting Married should have gotten wider distribution to offset the obvious horror of star Anne Hathaway’s other movie, Bride Wars. Perhaps someone thought we would be confused by two Hathaway wedding themed movies? Be that as it may, when this comes out on DVD in March, please take the time to seek this movie out. It lived up to its hype for me.
Hathaway plays Kym, the sister of the titular bride, and is pulled, not fully cooked, out of rehab for the wedding weekend. Readers of AA and Al Anon literature may be able to predict generally that Kym will not be on her best behavior due to her scrambled mental state. The marriage of anyone close to a person can derail even the most stable of us. What is not predictable is how Kym crashes through her family and the weekend, careening off real and imaginary obstacles with a fierce yet still sympathetic rancor. It’s clear she’s in some pain, but we are helpless to watch her be torn up inside with defiance, shame, sentiment, fear, longing, resentment, and need. She’s plopped back into the amazing, wonderful creative maelstrom of her family, and her pared-down pugnaciousness makes her stick out more than just her behavior does. This is the best movie wedding I have seen in who knows how long — so over the top perfect but still feeling authentic and possible. Why would anyone take substances to miss out on this life? The dishwasher scene is a gem. We don’t need to know how Kym became an addict; we see here enough of how it’s affected everyone for the genesis not to matter.
Director Jonathan Demme, who helmed Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia, does perfectly here what Robert Altman and Steven Soderbergh seem to fail at doing (at least for me). Demme layers dialogue naturalistically and shoots the whole thing on hand-held digital video, inserting the audience into the proceedings like an unacknowledged guest. At first we’re a little too close, too invasive, but of course that’s how Kym feels too. Fortunately the camera relaxed into a more comfortable distance. The camerawork and the naturalistic dialogue and the raw, unpolished emotional responses give us a real cinema verite feel and keep us feeling like we are present at the wedding. Rachel Getting Married isn’t slick and elegant like Lambs or Philadelphia or his Manchuruan Candidate remake, but that’s what makes it feel like a huge leap forward in artisitic expression. It’s the home movie you hope never to see of your life, impeccably filled with color and on-set live music and life and demons and relationships and Hathaway really giving her all.
MPAA Rating R-language, brief sexuality
Release date 10/3/08
Time in minutes 111
Director Jonathan Demme
Studio Sony Pictures Classics