Take a look at the star ratings! I've never seen such a curve, with twice as many one-stars as any other number, and with such rhapsody versus such vehemence in the reviews. You'd think it was a book about global warming, from such agonistic writing.
I can understand both sides here. "Rachel Getting Married" was in no way entertainment. Even my wife, who for once didn't fall asleep in the middle of a movie she'd rented herself, said she was 'glad she'd seen it' but wouldn't assert that she liked it. She's a psychologist, by the way, and has been "on the set" of countless Twelve-Step meetings. She did NOT find anything in this flick unconvincing.
RGM is a two-day romp amid the wedding festivities of a filthy rich, self-consciously unconventional, hideously dysfunctional Connecticut family. The star of the film and the queen of dysfunction is the younger daughter Kym, on furlough from her latest ultra-costly rehab facility for her older sister's wedding. The groom's family seems to have unexplained musical connections; in any case, jazz, blues, rusty metal, samba, and Bollywood jam sessions swirl in the background of the wedding day and night. The whole film is shot with hand-held cameras, at odd angles, over shoulders, through doorways, giving the impression of uncut home movie footage. The groom's younger brother is shown, as if to validate the cinematographic concept, with a video camera whirring constantly. Kym is a tornado of unresolved conflicts, who cuts a swath of grief through the extravagant celebration.
So why didn't "people" like this movie? Most of the reasons given in the one-star reviews seem so shallow and petulant that I found myself respecting the craft of director Jonathan Demme and scriptwriter Jenny Lumet more and more as I read them. Hence my own five-star rating. Let's look at the gripes:
1. "Kym, acted by Anne Hathaway, is a hateful spoiled brat that I couldn't feel any sympathy for." Well, dear critic, you got the first part right. Kym is a hard case -- narcissistic, seething with disallowed resentments and jealousies, an `actress' even in her own life story, a liar and faker whose `recovery' is only another histrionic script. She's a walking documentary for the DSN-IV, the `Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association. But who says you're supposed to like her? And who could expect her to `recover' over a weekend with such a family? Hathaway gets Kym perfectly; of course Kym botches everything, of course she returns to rehab just the same head-case she was before the camera started to roll. That's life. The several five-star reviewers who acknowledged their own addiction got it right. No sympathy? Get a heart!
2. "Nothing happens. There's no resolution." Exactly. If there had been some miracle of redemption and resolution in the final scenes of this film, I would have thrown my shoe at the screen. This is not a fairy tale.
3. "Nothing is explained." Okay... Is that a problem for you? Can't you project some of your own experiences on it as explanations? One of the best things about this film is that there are no "flashbacks", no extenuating narratives. The people are who they are. No alibis.
4. "The Dad is a wimp." You missed something, critic. The Dad is actually Ozzie Nelson of Ozzie and Harriet, or Mister Greenjeans, or Ernie from the Moppets. He's hopelessly conflict-avoidant and ineffective. He's just as selfish and narcissistic as his daughters, but he scripts himself as Mr. Nice. He's part of the problem, not the cure. He's addicted, also, to his own self-image and lifestyle. Actor Bill Irwin nails this role perfectly. Actress Deborah Winger also nails her role as the detached, divorced Mother, out to save herself as best she can. In fact, the whole cast of RGM is superb. Even if you hate the film, you've got to admire the acting.
5. "I hate those people. They're spoiled, self-indulgent yuppies." Yup indeed. They're not "my people" either, but aside from their artistic trappings, they're not so removed from us, not in their family dynamics anyway. I could have been at that wedding, as one of the paid help, one of the musicians. Really, I have been. Dress them in costumes from `The Godfather' and give them Jersey accents, or in stetsons and cowboy boots and set the scene in Houston. I wonder, critic... Do you hate them because you're envious of their privilege? Just for fun, imagine yourself a slum-dweller in Tehran, watching this film. If you could follow it, what impression would you form of Americans? This is a film about self-recognition. If you can't recognize anyone in it, may be you need rehab.
6. "It went on too long. It could have been edited." Yeah, yeah, I say the same thing about Wagner. But all the `slow' stuff - all the speeches at the rehearsal dinner, for instance - set us up for Kym's various crack-ups. Once I'd given up the notion that I was watching the film for pleasure, every scene in it made embarrassing sense.
So now what? Now that I think of it, I like this film more and more. Say that again: Now that I THINK of it, I like this film more and more. Like a heartfelt hangover, this is a "morning after" film.
Short Attention Span Summary (SASS): 1. Kym (Anne Hathaway) gets out of rehab, just as ... 2. ... her sister Rachel's getting married 3. Kym immediately starts making waves as she does her best impression of "normal" within a dysfunctional group. 4. What the heck's up with the bridegroom (Tunde Adebimpe) and those gawd-awful glasses? I know we're trying for "regular" people here, but no self-respecting brother's gonna be caught dead in … more
Still dealing with her emotional angst, Kym (Anne Hathaway) is sprung from rehab for the weekend, to attend the wedding of her sister Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt). When she appears at the pre-nuptial events, Kym faces a host of demons - the least of which are memories of past drama and disappointments. As she wends her way through the emotional debris and faces the anger, hostility and sheer resentments of family members and friends, Kym discovers that forgiveness does not come … more
Jonathan Demme's latest may boast an award-nominated performance by Anne Hathaway but gets a little too confessional for my tastes. Self revelation is a good thing as long as it reveals--not retards the flow of a film. Demme's camera drops right in on this Long Island family as the oldest daughter is marrying the man of her dreams in a slightly unconventional ceremony. During this time spent with the touchy, highly combustible personalities we meet Rachel's sister Kim(Hathaway), … more
Watching this movie was difficult for me. On the one hand, it's interesting to see a 'take' on how a family copes with addiction and tragedy. I happen to know from personal experience. Some of the characters were o-kay for stereotypes, but as genuine reflections? Not so much. Especially Anne Hathaway's character. If you've EVER dealt with an addict or a recovering one (especially early on), they are no where near as 'thinking' … more
I had heard about this movie and figured I would enjoy it but wow, just wow! This movie was great, I would definitely call it eclectic. The group of people in this movie were amazing, from the main actors to the wedding party guests to all the musicians it was just great. Made me wish I was part of this diverse group of people, it was just awesome to see. For awhile I was bothered by some of the background information that was only hinted at about Kym's background but then … more
Several reviewers describe this film as painful to watch - and the subject matter is painful, but I found it fascinating, both because of the high level of the performances and because of the exceptionally strong camera work. I was also very impressed by the fact that the interracial marriage that gives the film its title was never made into an issue -- while there is definitely still room for films that address the various forms of prejudice (racial and otherwise) that continue to have strong roots … more
RACHEL GETTING MARRIED proved to be an entry card for Anne Hathaway's Oscar nomination, and while she turns in a strong performance, there is really very little else to recommend this film so unlike the work of Jonathan Demme. Written by Jenny Lumet, the story of a dysfunctional family on the weekend of the marriage of daughter Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt) being upturned by the arrival of daughter Kym (Hathaway) on temporary leave from a rehab center and the clashes that occur from this planned happy … more
Rachel Getting Married is a 2008 drama film directed by Jonathan Demme, and starring Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt, Bill Irwin and Debra Winger. The film was released in the U.S. to select theaters on October 3, 2008. The film opened the 65th Venice International Film Festival. The film also opened in Canada's Toronto Film Festival on September 6, 2008. Hathaway was nominated for Academy Award for Best Actress for her role, but lost to Kate Winslet in The Reader.