Thursday, April 23, 2009

Movie Log: Rachel Getting Married

Rachel Getting Married is not entirely a frame for Anne Hathaway's performance as Kym (the recovering-addict sister of the Rachel who's getting married), but it's darn close -- it's rare that there's a movie so much about one character that has the name of another character in the title.

Hathaway was Oscar-nominated for that role, for both good and obvious reasons -- it's a meaty part, with a lot of turbulent emotions and big speeches, and Hathaway does it well. Kym is one of those people who always has to be at the center of everything, and Hathaway balances the annoyance of that (won't this girl ever just shut up and get over herself?) and the raw neediness of it.

The background is slightly fuzzy at times -- some of that is deliberate (there's one important character from the past who is mentioned in passing once or twice early in the movie, and the big expected payoff is later), and some of it looks more like a result of director Jonathan Demme's improvisation-friendly style (Kym has been in rehab for about a decade, is still in her mid-20s, and was a professional model before that -- not impossible, but confusing).

Rachel Getting Married is another example of that old staple, the family drama: take someone who will say and do anything and dig up all of the old skeletons, and drop her into the middle of something important. In this case, it's Kym -- the trope works best when it's an estranged family member -- and the wedding, and the expected fireworks do follow. Rachel gets angry at Kym and with their father; Kym argues with her divorced mother; there's a big inappropriate speech by Kym at the rehearsal dinner, and so on.

Rachel doesn't quite come into focus; Demme lets his cameras linger too much on some scenes -- particularly the party shots -- as if he doesn't want to get back to his actual story. It could have used both a tighter script and a sharper cut in the editing room. But Hathaway is amazing, and she's surrounded by other actors doing good work as well. This is really a movie to see for acting rather than story, but it's definitely worth seeing.

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