Review: Rachel Getting Married

Rachel Getting Married (2008)
113 minutes
Rated – R
Directed by Jonathan Demme
Starring:  Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt, Bill Irwin, Debra Winger


Grade:  A-

There have been many movies about dysfunctional families before, but only a handful come close to the power of this little gem.  The story’s main character is Kym (Hathaway), a recovering drug addict who has been going in and out of rehab programs for years.  She’s allowed a pass out of her current session, that has seem to be working for months, to attend her sister Rachel’s (DeWitt) wedding.  Here, we meet the members of the family who are all diverse with personalities, intentions, and opinions.  No one is really happy to see Kym, except for her father (Irwin).  Kym doesn’t help her cause by clashing with everyone the instant she’s face to face with them.

Kym’s not a character that you’re supposed to like.  Instead, she challenges you to feel sympathetic for her through all the things she says and does.  It’s not easy, but I found a soft spot for her.  Her life has been plagued by a troubled and tragic past.  Her outrageous family doesn’t help the matter much, but she really does try her best to make it through the festivities.  At times she comes off as needy and selfish, but if anyone has gone through what she has, you’d only expect her family to atleast show some support of her steady improvements and accomplishments.  Kym’s begging for some kind of forgiveness and atonement, but her family just shuts her out.

In the midst of Kym’s impact with everyone, the main point of the film is the wedding itself.  It’s a marvel to witness the joyous occasion between the distinct married couple’s families uniting on the basis of love.  If there is one thing that takes the spotlight from Anne Hathaway’s complicated and scene-stealing performance, it’s the portrayal of the wedding.  Starting with the rehearsal dinner with the around-the-table toasts to ceremony and reception full of laughing and dancing; the wedding is the triumph and the centerpoint of the film.

Demme’s direction is at its peak in Rachel Getting Married.  His blend of drama with steady and shaky-handheld cameras really excel the audience’s viewpoint.  There were times I felt lost during the wedding ceremony and reception, but that’s what I think Demme was going for.  There’s just so much happening, so many people, and for us (as a guest)we’re just seeing these people for one day, one event, and then never see them again.  There are moments that drag a little long, but those are the moments we’re not particularly interested in.  Then there are moments that pass like a blur.  Demme captures all of this throughout the viewing experience.

Overall, this is one movie about a wedding that you’ve never seen before.  The clash of the event that symbolizes love with the pain and torture of a family member isn’t easy to sit through.  As emotionally draining the film was, I’m glad I spent the weekend with the family.  It was truly a great character study that resulted in a very powerful drama.


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