Rachel Getting Married

2008

Drama / Romance

8
IMDb Rating 6.7

Synopsis


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113 min
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23.976 (23976/1000) FPS /
113 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Luke Goldstein (goldwriting) 6

In every actor&#39;s career there comes a moment where the critics and audiences rally around jumping for joy about how they&#39;ve just witnessed a breakthrough performance. As stunning as these performances are, the term &quot;breakthrough&quot; always felt a little out of place to me since it&#39;s only on rare occasions the actor in question is relatively new. Most times they are people who have been pounding the boards and scraping the screen for years. In those terms, the breakthrough is nothing more than a large group of people seeing that actor in a new light for the first time, mostly in something they never imagined before. Now the newly colored spotlight falls on Anne Hathaway and her powerful turn as Kym in Rachel&#39;s Getting Married.<br/><br/>The film is a slice of life piece detailing a small space of time, only a few days, where Kym returns home from a rehab clinic just in time for her sister Rachel&#39;s wedding. Anyone who has ever taken part in arranging a wedding, especially one taking place in the family home, knows the extreme stress already present, so toss a young, partially unstable girl into the mix and top it off with a nice coating of family denial and dark skeletons in the hallway closet, then you get the full picture of this film. Relationships are strained, ties pulled so tight and taut they could snap and still they try to work it out through screaming, laughing and crying (not necessarily in that order). After all, it&#39;s about a wedding, who&#39;s not happy at those? Before giving Anne her due credit, let me shed some light on someone most people won&#39;t know off the top of their heads. Rosemarie DeWitt plays the title role of Rachel and she does it with the utmost tenderness and subtlety. What she brings across is the inherent hatred, resentment and unending compassion sisters can feel for each other, even through the worst of storms. With a film more comfortable in the category of &quot;ensemble piece&quot;, Rosemarie is the catalyst and pushes the energy along, changing and charging every one of her scenes. But the light shines brightest on Anne Hathaway as Kym, the ex-junkie, ex-alcoholic, ex-return rehab patient bordering on becoming an ex-family member. Audiences claim this as a breakthrough performance because they fell in love with Anne in The Princess Diaries movies, Ella Enchanted and the wonderfully wicked The Devil Wears Prada. Yet what they might not remember is she&#39;s played rougher, tougher roles in Havoc and Brokeback Mountain, showing the more mature and adult side of her skills. So I wasn&#39;t all that shocked to witness the brilliance she brought to this film, but I will celebrate it all the same. Anne jumps in and exposes a vulnerability, a cavern of pain and lost love, which drives the emotional core of the picture. From opening credits to the closing moment, she is the elephant in the room everyone must deal with and the magical point is this is the first time where the audience can begin to empathize with the elephant and not the onlookers. I can&#39;t end the acting portion of this review without bringing up Bill Irwin and Debra Winger as well. Bill plays her father and churns out a tenderness only an accomplished actor such as himself could generate. There are such small moments, such tiny fractures in his facade which allow you to peer into the heart of a man trying to choose between his greatest love and his greatest loss. On the other side, Debra Winger plays her mother, who has chosen to block out the pain in her past and skate by the rest of her life, allowing the blackness and hurt to fester and suffocate any chance at a real connection with her daughters. As you can read, the acting on display here is sensational and will undoubtedly be remembered during awards season.<br/><br/>As a total film, I&#39;m not sure the story reaches the same heights. A lot of great scenes and spectacular moments are created, but the story lacks cohesion. A particular subplot about the family and its deep love for music is mentioned and referred to over and over, but never fully explained or explored, which weighs down later scenes during the wedding celebration and the overlong musical sequences. During most of the musical moments, all I really wanted was to get back to the story, back to the family and to Kym. Also, the connection between Rosemarie and her soon-to-be husband Sydney (played by Tunde Adebimpe) never quite comes across. There is a wonderful moment during their wedding vows, but it could have been helped even more if their relationship had been more centered earlier on.<br/><br/>On the directing front, Jonathan Demme, with the assistance of a touchingly tender script from Jenny Lumet, helps craft a reality we can all believe in, a home we can all feel we&#39;ve been to before. Much of this intimacy and nuance came from the free form style of camera movement, with the actors never knowing where and when the camera was going to appear on them. Everyone was basically playing everything from the moment he yelled action, so there were emotional surprises around every pan of the camera. That technique gave the movie a certain level of improv or even documentary feeling, like the audience was the most silent of voyeurs.<br/><br/>Recommendation: A powerful series of moments, filled with terrific acting, that don&#39;t quite come together as a film. Certainly has great value to witness, but the theater experience might not be necessary. Also, this really is meant for those viewers not afraid to open themselves up to it.

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Reviewed by Ed Uyeshima 8

Sitting through a movie about sibling rivalry at a wedding, especially one starring the doe-eyed and normally facile Anne Hathaway, sounds like a potentially painful way to spend an evening. However, as directed by Jonathan Demme and written by Jenny Lumet (Sidney&#39;s daughter), this 2008 drama is not a lightweight star vehicle à la Julia Roberts circa 1997 but a darkly realistic look at the dysfunction within a family thrown into disarray. Using an almost cinéma vérité style, Demme explores how a wedding reopens old wounds within a family in a naturalistic way made all the more palpable by the emotional acuity in Lumet&#39;s screenplay.<br/><br/>The focus is on Kym, a chain-smoking former model who has spent the last several months in rehab. As a substance abuser whose only armor is cutting sarcasm, she is absurdly hopeful that her sister Rachel&#39;s wedding will be a harbinger for unconditional love from her upscale Connecticut family. Therein lies the problem as her narcissism provides the catalyst for long-simmering tensions that uncork during the preparations for a lavish, Indian-themed wedding weekend (the movie&#39;s working title was &quot;Dancing with Shiva&quot;). It soon becomes clear that Kym&#39;s link to a past tragedy is at the core of the unpredictable dynamics that force confrontations and regrettable actions among the four principal family members. Rachel appears to be Kym&#39;s sensible opposite, but their alternately close and contentious relationship shows how they have not full recovered from past resentments. Their remarried father Paul is a bundle of loving support to the point of unctuous for both his girls, while their absentee mother Abby is the exact opposite - guarded and emotionally isolated until she is forced to face both her accountability and anger in one shocking moment.<br/><br/>Anne Hathaway is nothing short of a revelation as Kym. Instead of playing the role against the grain of her screen persona, she really shows what would happen if one of her previous characters ? say, Andy Sachs in &quot;The Devil Wears Prada&quot; - went another route entirely. The actress&#39; studiousness and persistence are still very much in evidence, but the story allows her to use these traits under the guise of a self-destructive, often unlikable addict who gains attention through her outrageous self-absorption. As the put-upon title character, Rosemarie DeWitt realistically shows Rachel&#39;s sense of pain and resentment as the attention veers to Kym during plans for the most important day of her life. Bill Irwin is winning as the unapologetically grateful Paul, but it&#39;s really Debra Winger who steals her all-too-brief scenes by bringing the remote character of Abby to life. Now in her early fifties, the famously tempestuous actress seems to rein in her innate fieriness to play a woman who consciously disconnects herself from the family she raised. What remains is a crumbling fa?ade of propriety masking this obvious gap. It&#39;s similar to Mary Tyler Moore&#39;s turn as the cold mother in &quot;Ordinary People&quot;, but casting the normally vibrant Winger (who probably would have played Kym a quarter century ago) is a masterstroke.<br/><br/>The film is not perfect. Demme&#39;s home-video approach, while novel at first, proves wearing over the 114-minute running time. Pacing is also a problem, especially when the focus turns to the minutiae of the wedding ceremony and reception. I wish Demme could have cut this part of the film, so we could get to the icy, unfinished resolution sooner. As a filmmaker who obviously enjoys making music concert films (&quot;Stop Making Sense&quot;, &quot;Neil Young: Heart of Gold&quot;), there are quite a few musical performances presented in total. However, for non-aficionados, it may prove too much over time. While it&#39;s refreshing to see interracial marriages treated so casually (Lumet&#39;s grandmother is legend Lena Horne), Demme makes almost too big a point in presenting a global community though the diverse music and the wedding&#39;s multi-cultural themes. The movie starts to feel like a Putumayo collection of third-world performances. Still, Demme&#39;s intentions can&#39;t be faulted, and neither can the piercing work of Hathaway and Winger.

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Reviewed by dierregi 1

The only good news about this movie is that Anne Hathaway is a professional performer. She is given a most unlovable role to play and she plays it flawlessly. Also, you don&#39;t have to worry about reading a spoiler, because nothing worth spoiling happens during the whole movie.<br/><br/>In a nutshell, the movie is a sort of fake documentary about a multiracial wedding organized by a severely dysfunctional family. Members of said family are narcissistic, rehab babe Kym (Hathaway); her snobbish sister Rachel; their divorced, weak father and their fed-up mother.<br/><br/>I will mention only a few among the movie many problems <br/><br/>1) the music played throughout the film is simultaneously nerve-wracking and monotonous. A special note of demerit to a strident violin that drills its way into your brain; 2) the fake documentary style is achieved by filming with a shaking camera, probably hand-held by a monkey; 3) the whole film, already pretty inconsistent is further watered down by a couple of excruciatingly tedious scenes. The first is the rehearsal dinner, during which almost every guest is given a chance of saying something banal about the happy couple. This type of thing is corny enough in real life, but when one has to sit through some 20 minutes listening to stupid stories about fictional characters, it becomes unbearable. The second is the post-wedding party. Here again we are given ample time to observe each and every character dancing, contorting and generally making a fool of themselves at the sound of ethnic world music; 4) the cast looks just out of a famous &quot;United Colours&quot; advertisement. It could not have bee more politically correct or multiracial than this. Actually, to the point of absurdity, because the bride wears a sari and cuts through an Indian wedding cake, despite the fact that neither she nor the groom are Indian. Why going Indian? No answer; 5) finally, even if Anne Hathaway does a good job, her character is so unlovable, self-centered and self-destructive that it does not elicit the least sympathy.<br/><br/>At a certain stage I sincerely hoped that Kym would manage to kill herself, to put an end to her - and the audience - misery and to provide some sort of cathartic moment to this otherwise lethargic movie. Obviously, no such luck. As mentioned above, nothing happens, dramatic or otherwise.<br/><br/>If you dislike real wedding for their sleazy jokes, drunken guests, never-ending speeches and headache-provoking bad music, avoid this movie at all costs. Also if you like good movies

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