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Old 02-07-2009, 06:54 PM
Jonathan Demme's Rachel Getting Married

Rachel Getting Married (2008)

The Academy Award winning director of "The Silence of the Lambs," Jonathan Demme, brings us a new film that couldn't be more different than the film he won for. This could have been an ordinary movie about an ordinary wedding, but where would the fun be in that? The film adds in one single element, a recovering drug addict, and suddenly we have a completely different film with some surprisingly touching moments.

Kym (Anne Hathaway) is a recovering drug addict who has been released from rehab just in time for her sister's wedding. The whole family, including her sister, Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt), is very happy to see her return, but they are unsure if she really has been cured of her illness. After some very awkward reunions, the gloves come off as old wounds are reopened and troubling past events are brought forth.

It's funny how much I was reminded of "Revolutionary Road" during this film. First, in a good way, it has performances that are top notch, especially from Anne Hathaway (recently nominated for the Best Actress Oscar) and Rosemarie DeWitt as the sisters. They are in complete control of their dialogue, delivering it as if it were the very words they would use. However, in a negative way, a lot of the dialogue was for several scenes of arguing; arguments that just seemed to keep going and not really getting anywhere.

This is the kind of movie where old problems from the past are brought up which leads to a lot of conflicts between characters. The problem is, the problems are merely discussed and not really dealt with, but with some of the problems that are talked about, it is understandable as to why they can't really be resolved. On the other hand, it didn't really seem like anybody was trying to resolve them, rather, it felt as though the characters were trying to prove that they were right.

Many of the scenes in this movie were a delight to watch. We get to observe as the two families get together, sharing this great occasion. There is a great scene where a rehearsal dinner takes place and all of the characters get a chance to speak. The emotion here is incredible because of the amazing ability of these actors to be so natural.

The emotion was a strong point of the film, but at times it did come off like a soap opera. Adding the part about Kym having accidentally killed her younger brother seemed a bit over the top. Perhaps the writer, Jenny Lumet (daughter of the great Sidney Lumet), felt that Kym being a recovering drug addict wasn't enough, at least a dark enough secret from the past that she could argue about with her family.

When the wedding scene finally arrives, it is amazing that we have come to care about these characters this much after only spending a little bit of time with them. Again, this is another high emotional point of the film, not only because of what has come before, but because we get the feeling that we are guests at this little wedding in Connecticut.

Jonathan Demme's direction is perfect for this film. He must have been using a handheld camera for this production as the movement of it was very noticeable. However, that added a very natural look to the film to complement the very natural performances. Again, this technique gives us the feeling that we are an actual observer of this event in these families' lives rather than an audience member.

Despite this film's problems, like "Revolutionary Road," it is worth seeing for the performances alone. Before seeing this, I was shocked that someone like Anne Hathaway, who hasn't done very many popular movies, would get nominated so fast. But with this performance, she has proven that she is a definite contender. Though my money's still on Meryl Streep, it probably won't be too long before Hathaway gets an Oscar of her own. 3/4 stars.
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