Saturday, January 10, 2009

Rachel Getting Married - Review

I love Anne Hathaway. She is a comedic talent, but we saw her first dramatic role as Jake Gyllenhaal's wife in Brokeback Mountain. She surprised people in that small role. In Rachel Getting Married she stars as Kym, fresh out of rehab to attend her sister's wedding. She is raw, and unafraid to show us a character that we don't really like, but we can't look away as Kym trys to get her family's attention and love.

Jonathon Demme directed this movie with a hand held documentary style. You feel like you are a guest at this wedding weekend. The extras in them movie who play wedding guests weren't always told what was going to happen, and you share the stunned looks on their faces as you witness the uncomfortable family moments. Weddings bring up all sorts of family issues.

James McAvoy, Anne's co-star in Becoming Jane, wrote about her amazing performance in Variety:

The character of Kym is a challenge both for the actor and the audience. She is clearly our protagonist and our "way in" to the film. We want to, and, indeed, have to identify with her for the story to work. Yet, she is so destructive, at times her actions so repellent, that it strains the audience/protagonist relationship -- all of which makes that relationship very interesting. I was so compelled to watch -- sometimes through my fingers -- because Anne Hathaway has that indefinable quality of making an audience identify with the character she is playing.

At her sister's wedding, Kym constantly behaves like the most important person in the room. It would be so easy to dislike Kym, but Anne makes you feel that her character is perhaps in another room -- both mentally and socially, albeit not physically, and therefore her calamitous outburst and limelight stealing seem like an ill-conceived attempt to connect. And in an extended post-wedding party scene, Kym dances with the group. This moved me to tears as I realized that her flailing arms and "look at me" gusto were the result of a self-conscious and forced attempt to fit in. In the end we see her dancing with her eyes closed among a hundred or so people and she is completely alone. That is a lot of empathy and understanding to garner from one shot, but Anne gives a performance so open and raw that I could not help but connect with Kym, even if her family was not able to do so.

I also enjoyed seeing Debra Winger in this film. God, it's good to see her act again. How ironic that the actress known for playing the daughter in Terms of Endearment, one of the best mother daughter films, is here playing the emotionally distant mother in Rachel Getting Married.

The screenplay for Rachel Getting Married was written by Jenny Lumet, daughter of director Sidney Lumet, and granddaughter of Lena Horne. The dishwasher contest in the movie is based on a night Bob Fosse had dinner at her parents' home:
I was 11 or so and we’re at dinner with Bob Fosse. My dad’s loading the dishwasher and Bob Fosse is next to him with a cigarette and he says, “You know, Sidney, if you put the salad bowl and the containers in the top level, you’ll have 10% more space in the dishwasher.” And my Dad says, “Bobby, go fuck yourself.”

You’d think these titans would have something better to talk about or do! My Dad says the forks go up and Bob tells him that it’s so amateur. I can’t say that at 11 I knew I should use this in art, but it stuck with me because it was psychotic behavior.

There may have been a slip up on the Golden Globes website which briefly showed a star next to Anne Hathaway's name for Best Actress for Rachel Getting Married. Tomorrow night we'll find out if she beat the likes of Meryl Streep and Kate Winslet.

I give Rachel Getting Married 4 stars. It's an amazing film, and a fantastic raw performance by Anne Hathaway that I won't soon forget.

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