Rachel Getting Married

The perfect weekend for a wedding… but the storm is coming.

113 min     6.295     2008     USA


A young woman who has been in and out from rehab for the past 10 years returns home for the weekend for her sister's wedding.


DoryDarko wrote:
Rachel Getting Married left me feeling quite ambivalent. On the one hand I was really impressed with the acting (most notably from Anne Hathaway), on the other I just couldn't get myself to care. But that's really the director's doing; after all, it's his job to get me involved and to make me care about the story he's telling, and unfortunately, Jonathan Demme failed to do so with this film. Something that throws you off right from the start is the incredibly shaky hand-held camera. There isn't a steady shot throughout the entire film. It actually gave me a headache during the first five minutes. This, in combination with the lack of proper story- and character build-up makes you feel like you're watching a home video of some stranger's wedding. And it's not particularly interesting… Strangely enough, during some parts of the film I felt like I was watching a Louis Theroux documentary, because that's exactly the way it was filmed. I expected a gangly Englishman with dark glasses to walk in at any moment and start asking questions. Actually, that might have done this film a world of good… Scenes go on way too long without there being a clear point to it, and I just have to wonder why Demme decided to go this way. I mean, he has made some really good films in the past, and I was strangely surprised to see he directed this. It looks and feels more a graduation project from some film student, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it is when your name is Jonathan Demme. I even fast-forwarded some parts because the scenes were really dragging and I got bored. I actually felt like turning it off a few times, and that doesn't happen to me lot. In the end though, I'm glad I stuck with it, because the second half of the film picks up the pace and finally introduces some real character drama. Simply put, this film is about a drug addict who gets leave from rehab for a few days to attend her sister's wedding and pretty much ruins the whole thing. Anne Hathaway is very impressive as Kym, a self-centred, reckless addict, and she plays her role convincingly. So much so even, that she manages to make you feel NOT sympathetic towards her character at all. She is completely self-absorbed and unlikable, and even steals her sister Rachel's thunder when she (Rachel) announces to her family that she is pregnant, and Kym immediately turns the conversation around and makes it all about her again, and does so on many more occasions. I know that many people who are related to drug addicts will be able to relate to these typical symptoms, so in that sense, it was all very real. On her part, Rosemarie DeWitt, who plays Rachel, was equally impressive as she firmly stood her ground as the loyalty-torn older sister who only asks to be in the spotlight for one day of her life, without her troubled sister claiming all the attention. However, the part that mostly struck a nerve with me was that of their dad, played by Bill Irwin, who is, more than anyone, caught in loyalty limbo, not wanting to have to choose sides between his two daughters. He doesn't overact his inner conflict in any way, yet he garners more sympathy than anyone, because he makes his pain so understandable. In fact, everything about Rachel getting married is all very human and relatable. The story (written by Jenny Lumet, daughter of Sidney!) is not one any of us have never heard before, but that's alright. We don't always need super complicated psycho-analysis with characters talking like they all studied Freud for the past twenty years. Sometimes, simple stories about human troubles are enough to carry a film. It may be somewhat predictable, with a quasi-happy ending, but it's still credible enough to leave you satisfied. And yet, I don't feel this film deserves much more than a 6, maybe a 7. And the fault of this lies entirely with the direction. The shaky home video style I mentioned earlier might work for The Blair Witch project, but not for a slow-paced character drama. And the pacing was just horrible. Some scenes were completely unnecessary and could have easily been cut down or even left out completely and nobody would have noticed. In fact, that would have helped a lot. It's really a shame, because the story is decent and the acting is great, but this is not a great film and it never will be. I do think it's worth the watch, especially if you want to see Anne Hathaway in what is probably a career-defining role. But from the man who made Philadelphia, this is a bitter disappointment. _(October 2011)_