Rachel Getting Married


Directed by: Jonathan Demme
Written by:Jenny Lumet
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt, Maher Zickel, Bill Irwin, Anna Deavere Smith, Debra Winger
Released: February 12, 2009
Grade: B-

Last month, I saw a film called Bride Wars. There is no question that it is one of the worst films in the history of cinema. I must sound like I’m over exaggerating but trust me I’m not. I didn’t end up writing a full length review because (1) I’d rather spend my time talking about decent movies, and (2) I couldn’t think of enough negative adjectives to adequately describe it.

I’m mentioning Bride Wars because I don’t want anyone to confuse it with Rachel Getting Married. They are similar because they both involve a wedding and they both star Anne Hathaway (The Princess Diaries). Whilst I’m not a huge fan of this film either, it has reaffirmed my belief that Hathaway has talent as an actress. In line with today’s economic times, we’ll just treat Bride Wars as a bad debt and move forward.

This is a very important film for Anne Hathaway as she has earned her first Academy Award nomination. She has also picked up numerous critics awards. It’s the kind of role that was always going to generate award season buzz. She plays a young woman who has battled depression, anorexia and an addiction to drugs. Her name is Kym and for the past year, she’s spent most of her time in a rehabilitation centre.

Kym has been released for the weekend so she can attend the wedding of her older sister, Rachel (DeWitt). It’s going to be a relatively small ceremony at her father’s house. A small group of family and friends have been invited. Kym’s arrival throws the wedding preparations upside down. She is immediately upset that Rachel hasn’t asked her to be the made of honour and the fact that her sister is receiving so much affection has left her feeling unloved. You’ll sense that fireworks are imminent.

There are a few really great scenes in this film. I’ll mention one in particular. The night before the wedding, many of those involved with the wedding go out to a celebratory dinner at a restaurant. A microphone is passed around the table and each guest tells a humorous story about the bride or groom. When Rachel gets her chance to speak, I was cringing in my seat. I couldn’t quite tell whether she was being sincere or whether she was looking for attention. There was an awkward silence both on screen and in the audience.

These terrific sequences are contrasted by moments of shear boredom. I think they show about ten non-stop minutes of dancing during the finale which takes place at the wedding reception. I wanted to know more about these characters and whether they had any hope of healing old wounds. I didn’t care at all about the wedding itself. It’s as if writer Jenny Lumet, daughter of legendary director Sidney Lumet, has only just scraped the surface.

Directed by Jonathan Demme (The Silence Of The Lambs), Rachel Getting Married grabbed my attention but in the end, it never delivered the emotional punch line that I was anticipating.