Friday, November 28, 2008

Rachel Getting Married

While Jonathan Demme is best known for Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia, this Roger Corman alumnus has a broad and diverse resume. Which is another way of saying you don't really know what you're going to see when you see one of his movies.

In Rachel Getting Married, you're going to see Anne Hathaway act, for example. (I'd heard she could act, but I really only know her from Get Smart and that picture that circulates around the 'net of her in the see-through top. (In this movie, her hair is shorn, she looks strung out and she's so thoroughly narcissistic, there's no chance for looks or charisma to carry her performance.)

You also get a lot of shaky cam, so beware. I found this well within my tolerance and The Boy praised it for making you feel like you really were there. There is a minor character, in fact, who is filming the proceedings, and you kind of feel like that while watching this. Adding to this is the fact that all the music is ambient. There's a band that hangs around doing nothing but playing eerily appropriate music, even if such music wouldn't be appropriate an actual wedding. (Heh.)

OK, so the story is that Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt of "MadMen") is getting married to Sidney (Tunde Adebimpe) and sister Kym (Hathaway) is checking out of rehab to join the festivities. Kym, being an addict and compulsive liar, immediately makes everything about herself.

Kym has done a Bad Thing. The upshot has resulted in her own downward spiral, her parents (Bill Irwin and Debra Winger) divorcing, and alienation galore.

And it was bad. And Kym feels really, really bad about it. But she expresses this by constantly drawing attention to her own suffering. Rachel understandably dislikes this idea, while her father tends to try to defend and protect her, and her strangely serene mother simply absences herself as much as possible.

In order to have a story, though, we need to have some sort of change. And there are only a few that will work. For example, Rachel could make the ultimate expression of self-pity by committing suicide, or she could have an epiphany and be miraculously cured--all in the fine melodramatic tradition, but not necessarily effective in the hyper-realistic form being used here.

Demme rather bravely pursues his climax at the wedding in a way that makes the resolution clear and eschews soap opera style dramatics. And amazingly, this works. The Boy liked it, which says something for a movie that's nearly two hours and primarily about wedding plans.

I've seen some hay being made out of the multi-culti aspect of the family (the bride is white, the groom black), as if their acceptance of diversity and quirkiness doesn't extend to the real quirkiness of Kym, but I don't see it, myself. First of all, the families are largely musicians. Second of all, Kym's not quirky, she's deranged and narcissistic.

No, if I had a problem with this, it was the timeline. The Bad Thing took place when Kym was 16. We don't know how long ago it was, but let's say Kym is now in her early 20s. Meanwhile, Rachel is the older sister (I think, certainly the actress in her 30s), so some of the tension doesn't make much sense to me. (I don't think parents divorcing when you're in your 20s is quite the same as them divorcing when you're a child.)

So I did get a little hung up on that.

But otherwise the movie works, and well.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Great blog. I enjoy it very much. Keep up the good work.

    I like your comments on Althouse.

  3. Heheheh. I liked your original post, Matt.

    Thanks for the kind words.

  4. I do not want anyone to know I watch Friends. Thats so gay.

  5. I was going to chastise you for the spoiler.

    I'm about nine seasons behind.

  6. Jonathan Demme's best movie: Something Wild.

    And I'm a big fan of SotL.

  7. I like Something Wild but SotL is near perfect.

  8. I wanted to like this movie but couldn't.

    Where was the editor, especially during the drawn out wedding reception? Too much music! And bad music, at that.

    And did they really need to show that whole dishwasher sequence, just to lead up to that plate? I usually like long, drawn out scenes, if they have a point, but this all just seemed to be trying too hard. The acting was great, and I loved seeing Debra Winger, and Rachel (Rosemary Dewitt) was fabulous, too. But it just didn't "work" for me.

  9. I could see the wedding scene not working for some, but I thought it was perfect.

    Yes, it was long. But I think it had to be. I can't say more without spoiling it, though. I actually wanted to write about it extensively but there's no way to do so without completely ruining the movie.


Grab an umbrella. Unleash hell. Your mileage may vary. Results not typical. If swelling continues past four hours, consult a physician.