Tuesday, December 9, 2008

REVIEW: Rachel Getting Married...


I love dysfunctional family films. I grew up in a great home, with really amazing parents, so I guess it gives me a view into what it's like. Royal Tenenbaums, The Squid and The Whale, or even, to an extent, Margot At The Wedding. Oddly enough, Rachel Getting Married is almost a carbon copy of Margot At The Wedding, except it has one thing Margot didn't. A heart.

Rachel Getting Married tells the story of Kym (Anne Hathaway),returns to the Buchman family home for the wedding of her sister Rachel (Rosemarie Dewitt), she brings a long history of personal crisis, multiple stints in rehab, and family conflict along with her. The wedding party's abundant cast of friends and relations have gathered for an idyllic weekend of feasting, music and love, but Kym with her not very comedic one-liners and knack for drama is a catalyst for long-simmering tensions in the family dynamic. Director Jonathan Demme, best known for Silence of The Lambs, first-time writer Jenny Lumet, and the stellar acting ensemble attempt to tell this dark, comedic, and at points touching family story.

The film starts with Kym getting picked up by her father from another stint in rehab, for various drug problems. The viewer is then thrust into a dysfunctional yet completely compelling story of love, loss, and addiction. The films main character is not the woman whose name graces the title, but is instead, Kym, played brilliantly by the stunningly gorgeous Anne Hathaway. She has recently won the National Board of Review's award for Best Actress, and it is a much deserved win. She is a troubled woman, with a horrible family tragedy and the helm of her trouble. When she was 14, she took a large amount of Percaset, and then drove her brother to a park, and on the way back, she drove her van off of a bridge, into a lake, leading to the drowning of her younger brother, Ethan. It's not bright stuff, yet the film does not lay in the realm of the darkness, like it's brethren, Margot, so horribly did.

The supporting cast in this film also really picks up it's own weight. Rachel is the real star of this film, and is portrayed by Rosmarie Dewitt, who, if she is not nominated for an Oscar later this year, the Academy has more screws loose than this family does. The interchanges between her and Kym are some of the most heartbreaking scenes I've seen all year. Rachel's fiance, Sydney, is played by none other than (and this is a nerd moment) Tunde Adembipe, a.k.a. the lead singer for my favorite band, TV On The Radio, and he is a really sweet guy, and gives a lot of heart to this film. The other supporting character that surprised me was Bill Irwin as the father, and I will talk more about him in a second.

But just because a character didn't have a major role, didn't make it any the less important. This is another great thing about the film. It doesn't take you by the hand at all. There is no real establishment point, in which you really meet the characters, everything in this film is very cinema verite, in that you are just really thrust into the family. There is a certain character, a special officer in the military on leave, and isn't given much to do, but he has a hand held camera, and Demme so brilliantly went between his camera, and the handheld, and it really made the experience all the more perfect. These little visual flares were so breathtaking, that it truly made me fell as though I was sitting right at the punch bowl, watching all of this take place.

There is one scene, in particular, that is the single best scene I've seen on the big screen this year, and it involves Sydney, the father, and a dish washer. The two are trying to bond, by making a contest out of who can load the dish washer the fastest, however, when Kym hands the father a set of plates, to have him only pick up one that was used by, and only by, Ethan, he simply puts it down and walks away. It's so heartbreaking, sweet, moving, and overall touching, but at the end, as Kym sits down, to have Sydney stand behind her, and touch her shoulder. Jeez, it's getting a little dusty just thinking about it. There are so many scenes like this (such as a truly moving wedding ceremony, featuring a song sung by Adembipe, which DID bring me to tears), that this film is easily in my top 5, and may be my favorite film this year.

That is what this film does so well. You will get a horrible sad scene, or dialogue, that really just tugs at your heartstrings, but then, someone or something, comes in to rescue the situation or the person. It's a very well made film, and is a film I won't soon forget.

Oh, and did I mention, the soundtrack to this film is AMAZING.

The only problem, and this is nitpicking, but it does lag a little bit during the rehearsal dinner, as it goes on for about 5 minutes to long, but what it culminates in, is worth it. Also, to hear Fab Five Freddy say a CLASSIC line like, "may you live to be 100, and may I live to be 100 minus a day, so I never know what it's like to see two beautiful people pass away," make this a film I completely recommend.

RACHEL GETTING MARRIED: 9/10

The film runs the gamut of emotion, and that's why you should see it. It's well made, gorgeous to look at, and is one of the most emotional film going experiences I've had in a long time. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, see this film.

Come back later for more news and notes...

Go see something good!

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