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Movie Review: Rachel Getting Married

Rachel Getting Married: Riveting and Painful Realism

I normally cry at weddings (and wedding scenes), so spending a whole wedding weekend with Rachel and her family in Rachel Getting Married was quite the teary experience. It’s not all weeping and sighing (though there's a lot of that, in both the joyful and the heart-wrenching scenes) — there is also silliness and humor. It's a movie about forgiveness, heartache and the tenderness of human frailty. So, despite the lovely main plot point (a backyard wedding overflowing with the generosity of friends and family), it's incredibly heavy.

Rachel (Rosemarie Dewitt) is indeed getting married at her father's home in Connecticut, and her recovering addict sister Kym (Anne Hathaway) is coming home from rehab to spend the weekend with her family. The duration of the movie takes place over this weekend as we watch the roots of the family's dysfunction unravel before us. There isn't a ton that happens in the story, but an awful lot is said and even more implied. The family spends the weekend in the warm company of friends and family, but while the guests are in full wedding celebration mode, the simmering emotions between the sisters, their father and their mother boil over, creating some majorly messy drama. For more of my thoughts on the film,


Anne Hathaway's performance as Kym is touching and pitiful, though in truth, every performance in this film is top-notch. This is as much a testament to director Jonathan Demme as it is to the actors. The plot lurches in fits and spurts, with banal, everyday moments buffering the appalling and intensely sad ones. Each character is portrayed in a hyper-realistic light and their relationships are sticky and exhaustingly complex, with much of the disappointment in one another coming from their expectations of what a sister/father/mother should be doing or saying. It makes you cringe, even as (or because) you find some of these arguments or judgments familiar.

The handheld shaky-cam filming style makes the whole thing feel like documentary footage, or like we're just spying on these people. In the same way you're captivated by an interesting conversation taking place one table over in a restaurant, this movie is absorbing because it seems like we're really eavesdropping, almost to the point of feeling voyeuristic. This isn't a bad thing, really, though it's not for people who like their movie drama to be pretty or sugarcoated.

In reality, I think a lot of people like to see what's going on in other peoples' lives. It's why rubbernecking happens, why people "love to see a train wreck." Not (necessarily) to ridicule the victims but to feel like all of human experience is common and shared. There are plenty of tearful fights and screaming matches and tense showdowns in Rachel Getting Married. But there are just as many moments when you feel like you actually are at someone's wedding, what with all the heartfelt toasts and the warm embracing and the sweetly shy introductions between families. It's as fascinating and painful as any real-life human journey, which is both sad and comforting at the same time.

Photos courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

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nancita nancita 7 years
I finally saw this movie this weekend and thought it was exceptional. As soon as the DVD player turned off, I basically said this exact thing to my boyfriend (quoting buzz): "Anne Hathaway's performance as Kym is touching and pitiful, though in truth, every performance in this film is top-notch. This is as much a testament to director Jonathan Demme as it is to the actors."
cdelaney cdelaney 7 years
i've been waiting for this movie. i can't wait to see it.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
I really want to see this movie. I love Anne Hathaway, and it's gotten such amazing reviews.
tchan01 tchan01 8 years
And Anne Hathaway should totally get an award for her performance. She totally blew me away.
tchan01 tchan01 8 years
Definitely not a happy movie, but it somehow hovered between deeply insane/sad and as you said buzz, banal and everyday. I think that balance somehow made it not as depressing as it could be. Overall, I think it was a great movie and I'm still thinking about it now. The wedding was very unusual but somehow I felt like if I was there I would have so much more fun than I would at most weddings! :-)
lovelystate lovelystate 8 years
I've been hearing rave reviews about Anne Hathaway's performance. I can't wait to see it!
Linda-McP Linda-McP 8 years
Thanks for the great review, Buzz. I forgot about this movie until now; it's on my to-see list for sure.
kiwitwist kiwitwist 8 years
I would like to see this. Thanks for the review!
nancita nancita 8 years
I wasn't sure whether to see this or not but your review has inspired me to add it to my list for sure. Sounds like my kind of movie. Thanks!
briggs313 briggs313 8 years
This was a tough one to watch, very good but not happy at all really ... but i can see Anne Hathaway being up for some awards, she and the rest of the cast did a great job!
jules0701 jules0701 8 years
Dying to see this movie but it isn't playing anywhere in Philadelphia that i can find.
laneylaney laneylaney 8 years
I was so moved by this movie. I really felt like I was there and the feeling has stayed with me since last week when I saw it! The screenplay was so gritty and real, and the emotion coming from each actor blew me away. Pleasantly surprised. Nice review, buzz!
Briandiesel Briandiesel 8 years
I need to see this. I think it looks really really good
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i've seen the trailer for this for ages and i have been trying to set my schedule up to check it out soon - and hopefully 'ill be able to do that once i get back from vacation. i'm not always a fan of AH but i think that since i'm tired of her, maybe this will be the movie to remind me why i liked her all those years ago.
chasingjamie chasingjamie 8 years
I just heard about this movie yesterday, I can't wait to see it. :)
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