Sunday, November 30, 2008

Rachel Getting Married (Rhoades)

‘Rachel Getting Married’ Is Like a Wedding Video

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Years ago I used to have lunch in a little diner just off Mulberry Street near New York’s Little Italy, its walls festooned with posters paying homage to films by director Jonathan Demme, his nephew Ted, and Jim Jarmusch. These up-from-the-streets filmmakers often ate there when in the neighborhood. I’d sometimes see one or the other at the counter, chatting with the owners and waitresses about his latest movie.

Sitting there amid posters and memorabilia for “Silence of the Lambs,” “Philadelphia,” “Something Wild,” “Beautiful Girls,” and “Mystery Train,” I’d order a fat meatball sandwich and eavesdrop on their conversations. Mostly small talk about actors and studios and fans.
Jonathan Demme’s latest film – a slice-of-life drama called “Rachel Getting Married” – is currently playing at the Tropic Cinema.

‘Rachel Getting Married’ is not really about Rachel. It’s more about her sister Kym who comes home during the weekend of Rachel’s wedding. Kym is the Prodigal Daughter (to adjust the phrase) who’s been estranged from the family for years while wrestling with her own personal demons. Fresh out of rehab, she flits into the Connecticut household with the subtly of a tornado. Her return throws off the precarious balance of family dynamics with both heartbreaking and hilarious results.

At one point she sarcastically refers to herself as “Shiva the Destroyer.” It’s an apt metaphor.
No, Ann Hathaway isn’t a Disney princess in this movie, as she adroitly tries on the skin of self-destructive sister Kym. It’s been called “a breakthrough performance.”
Rosemarie DeWitt makes a great Rachel, exhibiting an understandable sense of resentment as her outrageous sister steals the spotlight from the impending nuptials.

Debra Winger is the film’s surprise casting, playing against type to give us a remote mother who is emotionally disconnected from her family.

With “Rachel Getting Married” Demme uses a home-video style that at first seems appropriate for this family drama – but after a while you long for the polished professionalism of a Hollywood cinematographer with a steadicam.

The script by Jenny Lumet displays insight into the relationships between sisters. Jenny is the daughter of acclaimed director Sidney Lumet. And as sister of sound editor Amy Lumet, she’s got some experience with this subject matter.

The film’s interracial marriage is hardly an eyebrow-raiser these days, audiences long past the “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” era. And it’s not a surprising plot element, considering that Lumet’s grandmother is legendary Lena Horne.

Demme has said he’d rather do documentaries than work with actors. An odd attitude for a guy who has directed seven Oscar-nominated performances – with four wins (Jodie Foster, Mary Steenburgen, Anthony Hopkins, and Tom Hanks).

In “Rachel Getting Married,” Hathaway, DeWitt, and Winger each give memorable performances. Although brief, Winger’s role is particularly mesmerizing.

This movie is like watching a home movie about a dysfunctional family. Being a wedding video, you know it’s a big occasion for everyone involved. However, sitting through “Rachel Getting Married” is vaguely uncomfortable, like watching family members fight in front of you.
[from Solares Hill]

1 comment:

sanjmyst said...

Found the movie to be quite interesting. I think the last few scenes of the movie seem to sum up the point of the movie. Out of the four family members, it shows three characters totally devastated by the past tragedy. But one of them, Rachel, is able to carry on with her life and is able to live in the moment, and seemingly not so affected by the tragedy, rightly or wrongly.

Kym is obviously blaming mostly herself for Ethan's death, understandbly so. If she weren't a basket case who got stoned so much, this wouldn't have happened. As she states, even if she becomes Mother Teresa she can't get past this. I personally feel she's not the one to blame, as her mom should not have left the child in care of her when she is stoned.

Mother, who's not able come to grip with the possibility of her own fault, is nevertheless devastated. She is a mother after all. Excellent acting. The tragedy is written all over her face.

And of course the father too. In the last few minutes, when Kym is leaving, the scene that shows the father pacing around seems to show that he is haunted by those memories everyday.

The point, I think, is that although three of these characters have almost no point to go on for themselves, they will go on for one individual and that is Rachel. She still has a chance for happiness and the others can at least go on knowing that if they didn't Rachel may join them as another tortured soul.

Although a more simple character, Rachel unknowingly gives a reason, a purpose in life, for others carry on with their lives.