Rachel Getting Married: Wah Wah

Side note: does MoveOn.org have to change their name now?

As I write this, I don’t “know” who the next president will be. I’m trying really hard to not think about the bottle of champagne I have in the fridge and instead force myself to think about friggin’ Rachel Getting Married, the new Jonathan Demme flick. This film is so much less pleasant to daydream about than a Democratic president, but regard it I shall, because my motto is “Movie review first, country second.”*

Let’s make it quick, though, because I have a couch to sit on. I could probably wrap this up lickity-split with a link to my review of Tamara Jenkins’s The Savages but I think I’ll try to spice things up a bit and make some stompy pronouncements, seeing as how it’s Election Day and all.

IN THIS ECONOMIC CRISIS, guys, do you want to go see a movie about awkward, painful family interactions or do you want to see Zack and Miri Make a Porno? I wanted to see the latter this weekend, but something told me to go experience Rachel Getting Married instead. If only because playing an obnoxious recovering drug addict and insecure sister is almost certainly going to launch Anne Hathaway into the Oscar spotlight (which she would deserve). So I went and I sat there and I writhed in embarrassment. I contemplated walking out, decided against it, and was rewarded later that night with a vivid and terrifying nightmare, during which my family sat around a dinner table and hollered at each other for what seemed like hours. It’s not that this shakily filmed slice of realism wasn’t a beautiful, compelling picture. It actually really, really was. It’s that I don’t need my nightly stress dreams about work replaced by stress dreams about family interactions.

Is that coming off too selfish? Well, tough. Like The Savages, Rachel Getting Married is moving and powerful — a three day emotional ride, centered around sister Rachel’s (Rosemarie DeWitt) wedding, to attend which sister Kym (Hathaway) has been released from rehab. Everyone wants Kim there, but nobody WANTS her there, seeing as how her crazy drug days resulted in the accidental drowning of their younger brother. In an attempt to relieve some of the pressure of the elephant in the room, Kym acts like a complete idiot over and over and over again. Fights ensue, siblings and parents cry…it’s the kind of roller coaster I’d think I’d be super susceptible to, especially since I fear family drama. But something about this movie lacked punch. The best way I can attempt to describe it is that, while the acting all around was outstanding and unforgettable (especially Hathaway, DeWitt, and Bill Irwin, who plays their faither, Paul), Demme doesn’t seem to be riding this particular roller coaster. The elements are all there, though. The aforementioned acting, the handheld camera, the jump cuts, and the music, which is generated entirely from within the film. All of these help to create a very realistic weekend, but like I said, if I’m going to have stress dreams because of your movie, I want it to also leave some lasting waking impression.

But it just didn’t. I didn’t leave the theater wanting to call all my siblings and insist that we all start hugging more, and ever since Away from Her, I have these high standards. If a film is going to kick us when we’re down, it should really kick, like with all its strength. To the face.

*Which is why my campaign didn’t really take off.

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Susan Howson

Susan Howson is managing editor for this very website. She writes THE BEST bios.

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