Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

Rachel Getting Married

 

Review by Matt Starr

Every time I see or hear the name “Jonathan Demme”, I wonder what ever happened to this director with the potential he had. After directing the masterpiece Silence of the Lambs and following it with the very good Philadelphia, he has yet to make any other films of that caliber.  After Philadelphia came out in 1993, he didn’t direct another film for five years.

His latest effort, Rachel Getting Married is written by Jenny Lumet, daughter of acclaimed director Sidney Lumet.  The plot focuses on two sisters, Rachel and Kym. Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt) as the title makes aware, is getting married, and Kym (Anne Hathaway) is returning home for the wedding after having been in and out of rehab for the past ten years.  Kym has struggled with drugs in her life and was also involved in a tragic accident involving one of the family members.

Kym is the catalyst in this story. All of the tension and drama stem from her presence. Her negative attitude, sarcastic commentary and penchant for drama bring trouble to what would have otherwise been a pleasant weekend and wedding. Anne Hathaway (of The Princess Diaries and The Devil Wears Prada fame) delivers a convincing and praiseworthy performance which is matched by the other cast members.

DeWitt as Rachel and Debra Winger as their mother are both stellar in their respective roles. In fact the best scenes of the film are when any combination of the three aforementioned females are fighting; the scenes are intense, and most importantly, they are real. The problem with Rachel Getting Married is that Demme seems uncertain as to what to do when the family is NOT fighting.

There are points in the film when it feels as it’s almost come to a dead stop and an argument is needed to refill the tank and get the vehicle started again. The film really does come to a halt when it finally gets to the wedding. For some odd reason, Demme shifted the focus from the main characters to various musicians and dancers at the festivities and the movie suddenly feels like we are watching the work of a cameraman filming someone’s party.

There are a lot of scenes in the film that were shot by extras in the middle of the festivities, as you can tell by the shaky camera and bad framing. Demme really could have created a powerful drama here, but instead ended up with a very mediocre film, due to some very questionable creative decisions.

Hathaway was present at the screening I attended, and revealed that she loves the freedom that this type of role brings for an actress, although she also made clear that loves entertaining people with the other less dramatic roles she is known for as well. At just 25 years of age, Hathaway has the knowledge and maturity of a veteran actress. She has already experienced and overcome a bad situation in the press and is well on her way to becoming a highly prolific actress.  On the other hand, one can only wonder what has happened with Jonathan Demme.

2 ½ / 5 stars
 

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