Friday, 15 April 2011

Rachel Getting Married

Lowdown: A woman released from rehab to attend her sister’s wedding causes tremors to her family’s cohesion.
Rachel Getting Married is yet another story revolving around the workings of a dysfunctional family. On one corner we have Kym (Anne Hathaway), the loser sister of the family that’s just been released from rehab; on the other we have Rachel, the successful sister whose marriage ceremony got Kym out of rehab in the first place. When the two collide shockwaves affect everyone but mostly the divorced father in the middle. Slowly but surely we learn about the family and its dysfunctionalities, but crisis can also lead to rehabilitation.
There really is not much more to Rachel Getting Married than that as far as the plot is concerned. What sets it apart from other films is the style, and you have to hand it to director Jonathan Demme of The Silence of the Lambs’ fame: he did create a unique experience here. Not a particularly good one, and not one I would like to see frequently, but a unique one nevertheless. It’s the camera that makes the main difference: the film has that distinct look of a digital shoot that, in general, I can’t say I like much. There is a reason for that, though: the camera is handheld and finds itself so close to the characters all the time that it’s clear only smaller cameras could have worked for Demme here. Further sense of fake authenticity is achieved through the music: there is a lot of it in the film, but it’s all coming from the musicians playing on the side (mostly as a part of the wedding ceremony and its pre-ceremonies). To the film's credit it has to be said the music even sounds as if it's played live as opposed to being imposed on top. All in all, this style gives the Anne Hathaway acting show that is Rachel Getting Married some certain appeal that it wouldn’t have been able to achieve otherwise. And yes, Hathaway proves yet again she has some good acting credentials under her belt.
If you get the sense Rachel Getting Married is rather weird then you’re right. For example, god is invoked throughout the film, but you never really get what religion the characters are from. The characters themselves are of various ethnicities: the wife to be is Caucasian, the husband’s black, and there are Asians about, too. The message this cosmopolitan atmosphere is supposed to convey eludes me; perhaps we are all meant to be participants in Rachel’s wedding? Perhaps it's a story of unity?
As far as anthropological experiences are concerned, Rachel Getting Married taught me something about the nature of American wedding ceremonies. I got a hint that there is more to this than the ceremony itself when an American friend of mine got married and told me of the “showers” and other events that took place around the wedding; Rachel Getting Married covered these for me to a level that makes it easier to understand why [American] people can make so much fuss about their weddings. I still prefer the lower key approach, but I can see how an American society with the core values it sports will end up with its complicated wedding rituals.
Best scene: Kym discovers she is not Rachel’s maid of honor (or whatever it is you call the bride’s best man; the whole terminology is pretty foreign to me). She turns nasty and receives nasty in return.
Overall: Not the greatest film ever but a worthy educational experience still at 3 out of 5 stars.

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