Rachel Getting Married (Sony Pictures Classics, R)

rgm2.jpgRachel Getting Married hits on something about the way families function that is rare to find articulated so clearly in a film—there’s a sort of European intensity to the way the narrative progresses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s fairly well documented at this point that I like Anne Hathaway a lot, so when the new Jonathan Demme film, Rachel Getting Married, debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival about a month ago and Annie was getting Oscar nomination talk for her role in it, I was justly excited to see it (as much as I like her, the only truly good movie she’s ever been in to date is Brokeback Mountain, and almost all of the rest of the films on her resume are outright, unadulterated shit). I’ve seen the film now (luckily for you, seeing as how I’m reviewing it here), and I can’t say that I was that impressed, but maybe that’s on account of my high expectations after all of the post-Toronto hype.

Anne plays Kym, a thoroughly unglamorous character who is a notorious fuck-up drug-user-and-worse in her family, whom she hasn’t seen in years and been honest with ever, when she returns home to attend her sister Rachel’s (Rosemarie DeWitt, looking like a young Kristen Davis, who alongside Vicky Cristina Barcelona’s Rebecca Hall, gives one of the best performances from an actress I wasn’t familiar with in a film this year) wedding. As far as everyone (audience included) can tell, Kym is at least trying to make an effort to not be her usual destructive self, or more so than usual, anyway, but her personality is so grating and she is so needy that her mere presence pretty much screws up everything for everybody anyway. And besides, after all of those years of messing up everything, everyone is pretty defensive around her.

Rachel Getting Married hits on something about the way families function that is rare to find articulated so clearly in a film—there’s a sort of European intensity to the way the narrative progresses. Even so, a lot of it didn’t quite work for me. Annie’s given a number of scene-stealing speeches, which she does a good job with (there’s no way they won’t make you squirm in one way or another), and they genuinely do illustrate something about her character and how she interacts with people, but in light of all of the Oscar talk, it’s hard not to view them as typical Oscar-baiting monologues now (which, admittedly, is totally unfair). There are also a few Big Scenes that don’t quite feel right (including one with a dishwasher), especially when a lot of the rest of the movie feels so true.

The point is, it’s a good idea to see Rachel Getting Married on as clear a head as possible, with the smallest amount of expectations as you can muster in the dreaded/beloved Oscar season. I know that there is a good movie lurking under here somewhere, one that I hope to discover in a few years when the dust has settled around the film in one way or another, but I’m not so sure that it stands up to the heaps of praise that have been dumped on it thus far. | Pete Timmermann

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