Rachel Getting Married (2008)

*. Domestic drama really isn’t my thing. Nor are weddings, at least of the kind Rachel is having in this movie. I think I would have tried to find any excuse to not attend if I’d been invited. But I wanted to see Rachel Getting Married because I was tired of seeing Anne Hathaway, an actor I enjoy, in movies where she was a square peg being pounded into a round hole. I mean, she was very good as the Catwoman, as a secret agent in Get Smart, and as an astronaut in Interstellar, but . . . really? And I can’t blame her for mailing it in on Serenity.
*. Jonathan Demme had his eye on Hathaway as well, and when Sidney Lumet sent him the script, written by his daughter Jenny, he had her pegged for the lead of Kym. I think she’s good, but I still don’t think it’s a role she can get much out of. Lumet’s script seems very humdrum to me, sort of like an Ordinary People for the 2000s. Kym is in rehab due to a drug problem that resulted in her killing her younger brother by accident some years earlier. Meanwhile, her more grounded sister Rachel (Rosemary DeWitt), is, as the title implies, getting married. Alas, Kym and her issues have the potential to ruin Rachel’s big day.
*. There’s really not a lot more to the story than that. Basically you just cringe along with the rest of the family as Kym’s train wreck threatens to blow everything up completely. Nothing is resolved but we get a send-off that leaves us feeling optimistic for the future. Love and family will surely see everyone through.
*. What either makes or breaks the movie for you will be the telling. It’s basically shot as a kind of home movie of the wedding, with a handheld (or shoulder-mounted) camera wandering about the nuptial carnival. There’s eating, dancing, music (some of it supplied by Robyn Hitchcock). And of course there are behind-the-scenes dramatic moments that jerk us back to the Buchman family’s Really Big Tragedy.
*. I credit the cast, and especially Hathaway and DeWitt, for convincingly portraying ordinary (albeit very affluent) people who I wouldn’t care to spend a lot of time with at a wedding or anywhere else. The proceedings do have an authenticity and naturalism. The camera even takes us into the bathroom so we can watch Kym sitting on the toilet, and shaving her armpits. But in the end nothing much seemed at stake, because I guess nothing was. Nor was a great deal revealed. I like the character of Kym, one of those truly unfortunate types who seem to want to do the right thing but keep messing up, but there’s just not a lot going on here aside from the fact that it turns out to be a very nice wedding despite the threat of bad weather.

5 thoughts on “Rachel Getting Married (2008)

  1. tensecondsfromnow

    I think I like this one more than you; I like the fly-on-the-wall technique, and there’s a few explosions of drama that really land for me. And Winger is great and against type as the martiarch, matching Hathaway in the big scenes….

    1. Alex Good Post author

      Yeah, this one didn’t register with me at all. I thought Winger seemed practically invisible. Mainly though the script just didn’t feel all that original or interesting. Oh well. On to the next.

      1. tensecondsfromnow

        I’ll tart up my old review and see if I can get to the bottom of it; I remember this being a ferocious film, but I guess it depends on your investment in the main character, and I get how people might not love her…but I did!

      2. Alex Good Post author

        I actually liked Hathaway’s character. I just thought a lot of the wedding stuff felt like filler and the dramatic moments were obvious and overdrawn. For example, I couldn’t buy the father’s reaction to seeing the plate with his son’s name on it (was he surprised?), or the confrontation between Hathaway and her mom, which struck me as forced. But maybe I was just in a bad mood.

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