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Rachel Getting Married movie poster

Rachel Getting Married

Genre: Drama
Rated: R
Directed by:
Jonathan Demme
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt, Mather Zickel, Bill Irwin, Anna Deavere Smith, Debra Winger, Tunde Adebimpe
Released by: Sony Pictures Classics

In Short: Deep family angst mars a hoped-for happy wedding in this slow, dark drama.
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A Wedding From Hell
Please, Make It Stop

There are a couple of mysteries involved with Rachel Getting Married, the dark new family drama from Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme (who won for Silence of the Lambs way back in 1991). The first involves the plot, in which Kym (Anne Hathaway) exits rehab and rolls right into the at-home family-wedding weekend of her sister Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt). What is it that has made Kym such an emotional mess that the young woman has been through numerous stints in drug and alcohol rehabilitation? And is she finally at peace with her demons?

Those answers begin to leak out almost immediately, as this unsettling cinéma vérité-style drama unfolds. Amidst the shaky camera work and grainy film stock, the truth of Kym’s messed–up life is revealed, as she selfishly shifts the focus of the weekend from her sister's nuptials to her broken family's deeply hidden emotional angst.

Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married
Mather Zickel, Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt and Tunde Adebimpe in Rachel Getting Married

As the story drags on and on, and as Kym’s behavior devolves into one squirmingly bad and predictable screw-up after another, the other mystery begins to wash over the viewer—that is, the mystery of how this came to be a feature film, rather than a made-for-television movie designed for airing on Oxygen or the Lifetime Channel. Obviously, the answer is the combination of rising star Hathaway and veteran director Demme, but regardless of that talent pedigree, the film still plays out like any of the countless histrionic "chick flick" family dramas that predominate those cable networks.

The key difference here is that if you have paid ten dollars to get in, you feel compelled to stick it out to the very end. There, after a long series of interminable and tense scenes among various family members, the wedding finally happens—and that, too, seems to go on forever. It is hard to believe that the film runs just under two hours; rather, it feels like a marathon run in a morass while it is playing out, and it is ultimately depressing as well. In other words, this wedding is no party.

Reviewed by Jenny Peters

PKR091108 (Updated: 10/03/08 KR)

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