Rachel Getting Married

Changeling didn’t open at the multiplex within walking distance of me and I didn’t feel like driving across town to see it. So I opted for Rachel Getting Married because I like Anne Hathaway and I had heard that she gives a breakout performance. I still had to drive, although not as far.

The plot for Rachel Getting Married is simple. The Buchman family in suburban Connecticut is holding a wedding for their oldest daughter Rachel, played by Rosemarie Dewitt. Kym, the younger daughter played by Anne Hathaway is getting out of rehab for a weekend to attend. Everybody is nervous about this. Not only is Kym a recovering user in a very unstable stage at the moment, but at the best of times she is a selfish drama queen who demands more than her fair share of the attention.

Kym, appropriately enough, is the heart of this film and Anne Hathaway plays her to perfection. Her journey from unsympathetic narcissist to determined heroine, struggling against her demons and a family that doesn’t really understand and hasn’t really forgiven her. And that’s not even what she wants.  She regards what she did to the family as unforgivable. She is fighting for sobriety, not atonement. Unfortunately, she needs her family’s strength to achieve that. And it isn’t readily forthcoming.

The real arc here is that of the family’s as it moves from trepidation about what Kym will do to at least a little understanding and finally acceptance. There are a lot of scenes of the family interacting in rehearsal dinners, late night kitchen conversations, beauty salons, even something as simple as loading the dishwasher because a dramatic and telling moment. You could almost call it a wedding procedural.

Unfortunately those scenes are the weakness of the film. The speeches go on for too long and there is just too much of this sort of thing happening long after the point has been made. This is a family, flawed but happy at a joyous time, and Kym isn’t a part of it. We get it.

Likewise the cinematography is a little heavy handed or perhaps it’s the weather. The days leading up to the ceremony are gloomy and overcast. When she first comes home, the handheld camera follows Kym around the house, which is dark because the filmmakers are only using natural lighting. Then on the day of the wedding, the sun comes out at coincidentally the same time as Kym finally works her way back into the family’s structure. To be fair, not everything is worked out at that point, but you can see that things are going to be better.

The acting, however, is exquisite, which it had better be in something like this. Anne Hathaway is terrific in a breakout role. Kym is vulnerable but with an inner strength at the center that saves her just in time. It is a big change from the smart together nice girls that Hathaway usually plays and this role should move her into the realm of serious actresses.

The supporting cast is universally excellent too.  Rosemarie Dewitt plays Rachel as an older sister who’s resented all the attention that her younger sister has gotten through the years through her bad behavior. All Rachel says she wants is one day where she can be the center of the family’s attention.

I also want to single out Bill Irwin, who plays Paul, the beleaguered father who’s doing his best to see the glass half full. Nonetheless, he doesn’t completely trust his younger daughter to behave either. It is a convincing and honest performance.

Rachel getting married is one of those projects that has a great performance wrapped in a so-so film. But make no mistake, Anne Hathaway gives a great performance and it is worth driving half way across town to see.

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1 Response to “Rachel Getting Married”


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