Saturday, October 17, 2009
Rachel Getting Married. B
'Rachel Getting Married' is set up so that it looks like an extremely skilled cameraman went to a wedding and walked around filming it. Like 'Margot at the Wedding,' it is brutally honest, yet it isn't nearly as infuriating as that movie was. This has more of a purpose, more of a story, and ultimately more of a heart. The movie focuses not on Rachel, but Kim (Anne Hathaway), a former drug addict who comes out of rehab to go to Rachel's (her sister) wedding. Once she arrives, she has a hard time getting along with anyone. They all seems so happy, but she doesn't seem to fit in. Like 'Margot at the Wedding,' there are plenty of family quarrels, which can get sort of annoying and tedious after a while. But the real strength of 'Rachel Getting Married' is the performances and how they all blend together with terrific chemistry (the actors, not the characters). So instead of feeling like we're watching a bunch of actors give nice performances, we feel like we're actually watching a real, liberalized, dysfunctional family trying to make things right through a terrible tragedy. Now, Rachel's husband-to-be is black, so there is a lot of clashing of cultures, so to speak, throughout the film. It actually makes the movie much more refreshing, though it goes a little overboard on the wedding night. The director is Jonathan Demme, who ironically also made 'The Silence of the Lambs,' the sequel of which I just finished writing about. Demme is also experienced with documentaries. He made the acclaimed Neil Young concert film, as well as 'Man from Plains' two years ago. He really brings that skill to use here, as 'Rachel Getting Married,' though completely fictional, is like a documentary of a wedding. There is an underlying current of comedy here as well. The movie is well aware that this sort of wedding is something most people can't stand. The scene when the endless toasts are being made was almost like a satire to me. The film is clearly liberal-minded, but it is not glorifying this wedding and these people and the way they look at life. It is not saying that this is the right way to live and the right way to approach life. Actually, by having a bittersweet ending, it is almost doing the opposite. If you interpret the film as a self-glorification of these liberal people, then you're missing the whole point of it to begin with: to paint a stunningly real, unhollywoodized, family gathering and character study of a woman who has lived an extremely difficult life. This is a small movie and it comes to us on small terms, not trying overpower us with anything. It's not something that will be seen again and again, but compared to 'Margot at the Wedding,' it's absolutely brilliant.