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Thursday, January 27, 2011



Rachel Getting Married is a 2008 drama directed by Jonathan Demme that focuses on Kym's (Anne Hathaway) reintroduction to her family post-rehab. She comes back to her family just in time for her sister Rachel's (Rosemarie DeWitt) wedding, and despite her best intentions, Kym finds a way to make the entire situation about her rather than her sister. When she comes home, she starts to feel as though everyone, especially her father (Bill Irwin), is following her every move as though she's a ticking time bomb ready to explode. We find out through a series of addict meetings that Kym, while under the influence, was responsible for her younger brother's death years before, and she, as well as other members of her family, have yet to forgive. Tensions arise, as one would expect, and we see the best and the worst of the family through the course of the film.

I just re-read the above synopsis, and it seems a little disjointed and confusing. After pondering over it for a few minutes, I don't think it's just how I write it - it's a little bit of a condemnation of the film's screenplay. I didn't love the way the movie was scripted. It had its moments with some rather brilliant scenes (be on the lookout for an incredibly realistic wedding rehearsal and Anne Hathaway's monologue during group), but for the most part, we're not really given much. You can argue that the film is more of a character study than a plot-driven piece, and that probably gives it a little more credence. That being said, I think there are a couple issues with the overall screenplay, the biggest being the extended wedding reception. Yes, this movie is about a wedding. Yes, this movie is about, well, Rachel getting married. However, Rachel is not our protagonist; Kym is, and for that extended scene, I was completely taken away from the central focus of the film. And that's not good.

Fortunately, the acting within the film is phenomenal. Hathaway gives a delightfully splendid performance that garnered her her first - I say first because I expect many more - Oscar nomination, which she ultimately lost to Kate Winslet's performance in The Reader. Every time she opens her mouth, she demands the audience to listen, and we hang on every syllable she utters. That's powerful acting, to be sure. To demand that much presence on the screen is commendable. However, she does have some rather good supporting work aiding her on the side. Rosemarie DeWitt is just as good as the soon-to-be-bride who struggles with the fact that Kym is taking quite a bit of her imminent limelight. We really get a sense of the emotion she's feeling, especially since most of us can relate to that emotion in some way or another. I also have to make special mention of Bill Irwin as the sisters' father. It took me a little while to warm up to his character, but once I did, I thought he was utterly fantastic. He has moments of utter dorkiness, but with the character he creates, I thought it fit perfectly.

Overall, Rachel Getting Married isn't a film that I'm going to stand up and applaud, but if you want to see a fine ensemble cast giving strong, all-around performances, you'd be hard pressed to find a film quite as good as this one. Let yourself fall into the characters rather than the story, which gets mired down time and again. Find a way to relate to Kym, or to Rachel, or to their father, or to anyone, for that matter. There's a lot of emotion to be had in Rachel Getting Married, so I hope you can find it like I did.

Movie Review Summary:
Grade: B+
1.5 Thumbs Up

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