Review: Rachel Getting Married (2008)

Weddings are supposed to be joyous occasions. But weddings are also the times when a family’s past can come back to haunt them. Rachel Getting Married, directed by Jonathan Demme and written by Jenny Lumet, follows a wedding that is festive and celebratory but also painstakingly heartbreaking.

The films focuses on the complicated relationship between sisters Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt) and Kym (Anne Hathaway). After nine months in rehab, Kym has come home for her sister’s wedding and her presence ensures that the past will more present than ever. Bill Irwin, Anne Deavere Smith, and Debra Winger play prominent supporting roles.

Hathaway is playing against type as a tormented drug-addict and she delivers a fine performance that screams Oscar worthy. Yet it is DeWitt’s subtle performance as the long-suffering Rachel that truely shines. There is a complexity to the character of Rachel that is not seen in Kym. Rachel’s feelings, emotion and past are revealed more through simple gestures than Kym’s verbal revelations. Rachel Getting Married might be a vehicle for Hathaway to prove herself as something more than a Disney princess but it is a star-making role for DeWitt.

Using mostly handheld camera shots and naturalistic techniques, Demme captures the essence of a family struggling to come to terms with the past as they start a new beginning. At times Rachel Getting Married reads more like a documentary than a narrative. Yet for the viewer, there is an odd ghostly presence to the film; you find yourself peering in on this family’s past and discovering their secrets.

This is Demme’s best film since The Silence of the Lambs. The performances of Hathaway and DeWitt and the stellar script by Lumet make Rachel Getting Married a film not to be missed.

Updated November 24, 2010

Fall Movie Preview: Rachel Getting Married

Rachel Getting Married, directed by Jonathan Demme and starring Anne Hathaway and Rosemarie DeWitt, premiered at the Toronto Film Festival this week. Not only has the film been receiving excellent reviews from critics, but several claim that this is Anne Hathaway’s breakout role.

The story centers on the Buchanan family, a wealthy Connecticut family, who are marrying off their eldest daughter daughter Rachel (DeWitt). Younger sister Kym (Hathaway) who has been a drug addict since she was teen has been granted a weekend pass from rehab to attend the nuptials. Kym’s presence at the event brings about a number of truths the Buchanans would prefer to keep secret.

Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly calls Anne Hathaway’s performance a revelation. “She shoots far beyond giving a damn about her “likability” in a performance as scalding as it is controlled. She makes toxic narcissism magnetic.”

Glierberman also calls Rachel Getting Married Jonanthan Demme’s best movie since Silence of the Lambs and praises the directors ability to make you feel like a member of the family. [read Owen Gleiberman’s entire preview]

You can watch an exclusive clip from Rachel Getting Married here.

Rachel Getting Married premieres on October 3.

Oscar Buzz from TIFF

The Toronto Film Festival begins September 4. Dave Karger of Entertainment Weekly looks at four films screening at the festival that could be early Oscar contenders. Here are the trailers for the four films discussed.

Rachel Getting Married – starring Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie Dewitt, and Debra Winger (!); directed by Jonanthan Demme

The Duchess – starring Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes; dir. Saul Dibb

Appaloosa – starring Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen; directed by Ed Harris

Flash of Genius – starring Greg Kinnear and Lauren Graham; dir. Marc Abraham