March 2, 2009

Anne Getting Nominated


I couldn't believe that Jonathan Demme, the guy who gave us Silence of the Lambs also gave us Rachel Getting Married. It's the tale of Kym (Academy-Award nominated Anne Hathaway) returning home from rehab for her sister Rachel's (Rosemarie Dewitt) nuptials with musician Sidney (Tunde Adebimpe), and all the family traumas and dysfunction that coming home usually brings to the surface.

I'm not a big fan of the hand-held camera work because it was dizzying at times (why do small, indie films HAVE to have shaky cinematography, unless the director meant to highlight the tensions between family members even more?) But it did work for the rehearsal dinner and wedding scenes, where the cast was just so casual and unrestrained that it felt like I was watching a home movie. The wedding reception scenes could also have been shorter, although I did enjoy the music. The film's soundtrack is an eclectic mix of jazz, arabic, african music. American Idol's (and later on, Rent's Mimi) Tamyra Gray even has a singing cameo.

Ms. Hathaway gives a stellar performance as the family's black sheep recovering addict. (Although it did make me realize yet again that the Academy likes to reward actors who get all deglamorized for a role, like Halle Berry, Charlize Theron, to name a few.) Debra Winger, in an all-too-short role, plays the mother. Ms. Dewitt as the titular bride, is concerned yet mean, loving yet jealous of her troubled sister. Bill Irwin is the father, appropriately supportive and anxious about the prodigal daughter yet wanting to do right by his other child. The look on his face after the dishwashing loading contest scene was heart-rending. The best man reminded me of Adrian Pasdar (Heroes' Nathan Petrelli) and George Clooney at times.

The confrontations between the family members are so raw and spiteful at times that they brought tears to my eyes. They can hit you where it hurts. So if you have mother-sister-father-sibling issues (and who doesn't?), be prepared.

The ending might seem a little too neat and simplistic but it might have been the more realistic way to go for the screenwriters. We all get to go home, be with our families, fight and bicker, and leave knowing that we get to do it all over again next time. Because that's what families do. We come together, tear each other apart then try to put things back together.

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