Rachel Getting Married Review
RACHEL GETTING MARRIED: On general release from Friday 23rd January 2009
There’s no doubt about it, Jonathan Demme’s new film, Rachel Getting Married has some great things going for it.
They pepper the movie like microcosmical sentences of clarity in a ceremonial speech that send a shiver down your spine, perfect examples embodying the speaker’s point.
But, alas, I feel that, like many such speakers who overrun their timeslot, I can barely recall these points because I’m blinded by its one devastating fault- it is just too damn long.
A touchingly raw tale, the story revolves around a family, who are reunited when Kym (Anne Hathaway) is allowed out of rehab to come home for the wedding of her sister Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt). Feisty and defensive, yet crippled with guilt from past mistakes that threaten never to relinquish her, Kym is plunged into a mire of long-standing family tensions that come to the surface.
The acting is simply stupendous. If the phoenix rising from cutesy formulaic film flames that is Anne Hathaway does not win the Oscar that she is nominated for as Best Actress, justice has not been done in Movieland. Equally compelling is DeWitt, whose undulating interactions with Hathaway display a comfortableness that is both tender and hostile and is so instinctively sisterly that you almost forget that this is not a real family.
The script is joyously subtle and refrains from allowing you to completely warm to the characters. In this way writer Jenny Lumet ensures that you are drawn into the film, caught up like the characters in the same dizzying whirl that so often accompanies a celebratory formal event.
While this serves to reflect Kym and others’ tension in what should be intimately revealing scenes such as the dinner speeches where much camerawork is hand-held, in the end it leaves you feeling pretty awful as you stagger out of the cinema- and not in a good-pain-for-the-sake-of-art kind of way. As if you’ve been completely deserted by friends at a party where you’ve had to much to drink and it’s an obscene hour, you stumble around feeling not only isolated and disorientated, but betrayed by the film for cruelly leaving you shattered thus unable to deal with these emotions.
This downfall is due to its length. By the time the wedding occurs (finally!) in the last quarter and with the mayhem of the reception dance scene, you are sick from exhaustion. While this may be Demme’s intention, it’s too much to inflict on the viewer and only lessens those previously insightful instances.
Watching Rachel Getting Married takes…a…long…time. Don’t get me wrong, there are moments of pure brilliance, nuanced acting and captivating camerawork that makes you want to squeal with glee for three dimensional characters and indie films in general. But ultimately, this brilliance is tragically diluted by a running time that bores you into amnesia.
By Susan Allen