Release Date: Oct. 3 (New York City and Los Angeles)
Director: Jonathan Demme
Writers: Jenny Lumet
Cinematographer: Declan Quinn
Starring: Anne Hathaway,
Rosemarie DeWitt, Bill Irwin, Debra Winger, Tunde Adebimpe
Studio/Run Time: Sony Pictures
Classics, 113 mins.
Jonathan Demme's unexpected foray into
low-budget filmmaking may have made the case for pure and simple
films better than the practitioners of Dogme 95 ever did. Written by
Jenny Lumet (daughter of Sidney), the ebullient and turbulent Rachel
Getting Married is mostly about Kym (Anne Hathaway). She’s a
complicated individual, funny and bitter, a recovering drug addict,
and also something of a drama queen and crisis magnet who constantly
reminds her friends and relatives of her damage. Most of them
wouldn't say that to her face, but when she returns home for her
sister’s wedding, things are said, and Demme captures them like a
nervous documentarian huddling with a hand-held camera.
The film's two tent poles are the
rehearsal dinner and the blessed event itself, each of which plays
out in something resembling real time. They're long, but they're
never slow. At the dinner we hear speeches from moms, dads, cousins
and crazy uncles, and Demme seduces us, invites us to the table,
eases us into the ebb and flow of the jokes and sentiments so that
when Kym takes the mic, we feel it. We sense the room's collective
dread, we share the spoiled moment.
It would have been easy to build this
entire scene around Kym as an element of suspense whose involvement
we crave (for the excitement she'll bring), but what Demme does
instead is capture a family's joy so that when the warm feelings
threaten to slip away, as they do from every family at one time or
another, we share in the equal and opposite sadness. And then we hope
the evening will recover (because it was going so nicely), and we
smile when it eventually, sort of, does.
The magic of this inverted suspense
belongs in part to Demme's bold structure, which requires the
patience to let the scene build over what must be half an hour.
Someone else might have cut that down and destroyed the effect. The
magic also belongs to Hathaway whose fierce and quivering
performance—never showy, never upstaging the other members of this
excellent ensemble—brings such astonishing depth to her character
that when her face drew tight with tears, I sank an inch into my
Between the film's two poles are
several emotional jolts that probably aren't necessary, including a
car wreck, a physical altercation, and a confusing bit about a
dishwasher whose conclusion seems preordained. But they barely dent
the film's greatness, which flows from the authentic heart and soul
of a wonderfully diverse family of characters. Demme seems to want it
all to work out, and he celebrates that impulse in the wedding
ceremony, which seems to swell outside the film's bounds, suddenly
featuring performances from Robyn Hitchcock and Fab 5 Freddy. It's
weird, and it surely breaks some kind of storytelling rule that says
you can't diffuse everything with a party. But sometimes you can.
Sometimes you have to.
Watch the trailer for Rachel