Amoeblog

Rachel Getting Married: Not Quite Happily Ever After

Posted by Miss Ess, March 10, 2009 06:38pm | Post a Comment
Of all the Oscar related films I have seen thus far this season, Rachel Getting Married felt the most real to me.

rachel getting married

Jonathan Demme directed this film and the footage has a documentary, fly on the wall feeling to it -- it's shakey, hand heldrachel getting married and doesn't shy away from catching awkward moments. It perfectly suits the film's plot and the depths of intensity that the characters plumb throughout. The film centers around a wounded family getting together to celebrate the wedding of Rachel (the gorgeous Rosemarie DeWitt of Mad Men) and Sidney (Tunde Adebimpe of TV on the Radio). Kym (Oscar-nominated Anne Hathaway) is Rachel's attention-needy, just out of rehab sister.

I found this film to be extremely absorbing -- it really delves into the emotions and complications of a family whose deeply cracked ties are dangerously close, in some cases, to becoming fully broken. Kym's self absorption wreaks havoc on each family member in different ways and they all struggle to cope with her actions in the crucible of a fully yuppified wedding weekend. The languid pace of the film adds to its authentic charm -- the viewer is led slowly through a series of moments that have a strong cinema vérité feeling. We are innocent bysrachel getting marriedtanders as a layered history of pain and grief is slowly revealed, bringing this family to and through the emotionally charged wedding weekend.

Continue reading...

Home Movies: Rachel Getting Married (2008)

Posted by Charles Reece, October 12, 2008 09:25am | Post a Comment
            Life sucks, Brendon. That's your lesson. Go enjoy it. -- Coach McGuirk

So, I'll go ahead and use the fussy distinction of my esteemed colleague, Mr. Brightwell, and call Jonathan Demme's new film cinéma direct, rather than cinéma vérité. It's grueling enough to deserve the trachel getting marriedhree accent marks, however. Unlike the use of the shaky-cam in Blair Witch Project or Cloverfield, Demme and his cinematographer, Declan Quinn, always keep the camera in the objective, 3rd-person tense. They also thankfully keep it more transparent than the nauseating narcissism of Paul Greengrass's camera work. While moving room to room, the audience floats along, but when the wedding party guests are talking, Demme and Quinn fix the shot, even remembering that modern cameras can re-focus on stuff in the background without having to move. Contrariwise, I remain skeptical of any definitive ability to distinguish between direct and vérité when it comes to fictional films. The direct documentary is akin to the transparency of classical Hollywood, I suppose, but expert editing, grainy textures, and perfect-looking people tend to call attention to the artifacts in a realist drama. Whatever you call it, Rachel Getting Married is realism at its squirm-inducing most direct.
 
Jenny Lumet's script rarely hits a wrong note in analyzing a particular bourgeois Connecticut family's power struggles that are inherent to most families. Whereas my family get-togethers center on frito-pie and football, Rachel's wedding involves Indian attire and cuisine with Robyn Hitchcock and Cyro Baptista supplying the entertainment. All attention is being paid to Rachel until her younger sister, Kym, shows up with a weekend pass from court-mandated rehab. What follows is the gentrified version of the Oedipal Complex. The sisters compete for dad's affection using what they have: Rachel is the perfect daughter with some undefined perfect job, perfect friends (successful musicians and writers) and a perfect fiancé, whereas Kym is the classic second-child fuckup, with drug addiction being her defining characteristic. As with the thespian drug addicts in Hollywood who regularly meet at a little café on Vine, just South of Sunset Blvd., Kym's addiction isn't so much a cry for help as an egotistic need to be noticed. Hers is the kind of bottoming out that leads to a memoir featured on Oprah or as a writer of forgettable sitcoms; i.e., dependency as a privilege of the leisure class. Her sister isn't any less egocentric or any more likable: just as Kym is trying to get the family to acknowledge the way they all play into her addiction, Rachel interrupts with the announcement that she's going to have a baby. Score one for sis, and the cycle repeats. Mom got sick of their shit some time ago and left to live her own life; every narcissistic flower has roots. Dad's so castrated that he's always on the verge of singing, "mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey."
 
Anne Hatheway Rosemarie DeWitt Rachel Getting MarriedBill Irwin Rachel Getting Marrieddebra winger rachel getting married
 
The squeamishness comes from the way the mise-en-scène makes you one of the guests, eavesdropping on conversations that you shouldn't be hearing. As with real weddings, you're sometimes placed at the center of attention only to recede into the background in another scene. Sitting through a friend's wedding is bad enough, but two hours at a stranger's is debilitating. And Demme's film is so formally precise that you really feel like you're there. After twenty minutes of family friends talking about the bride and groom at the rehearsal dinner, I felt like covering my eyes when Kym brings attention back to herself by bringing up her drugged exploits in a 5 minute toast to her sister. It's not as uncomfortable as Capturing the Friedmans, but I don't plan on ever sitting through either film again. In scene after scene, the family refuses to properly address a past tragedy that structures much of its current crises, but the familial dynamic is never simply reduced to the tragedy. Anyway, kudos to the filmmakers for creating pitch-perfect quotidian misery. This is a good character study, even if I don't see much of a point to realistic character studies. Life itself already has enough pointless empathy without aesthetic realism giving us more.