Nothing like a wedding to bring out the dysfunction in a family. Anne Hathaway gets out of rehab just in time to keep anything from running smoothly at her sister’s nuptial preparations. A large, high-pressure family gathering is probably the last place one should go after a stint in a rehab facility, but I guess sometimes you don’t have much choice. Every little thing somebody does sets someone else off, and Kym can’t seem to help but repeatedly draw the attention to herself – a cardinal sin at somebody else’s big celebration. These characters are flawed and lovely, easy to relate to, and seem hellbent on destroying each other with their honest, earnest attempts to be a loving family. The love is real. So is the pain.
(And hey, look – Ms. Hathaway can act. One wonders why she chooses not to the majority of the time. She made two wedding movies in the last year – “Rachel Getting Married” and “Bride Wars.” It’s hard to imagine two movies about the same basic thing being any more different.)
Jonathan Demme’s direction of “Rachel Getting Married” is very intimate, employing lots of steadycams and long pan shots. Often it feels like you’re really at the wedding, annoyed by the string quartet that won’t stop rehearsing, trying not to step on the decorations strewn across the floor, wondering what in the fridge is safe to eat and what is being saved for the big day.
Last year’s “Margot at the Wedding” has basically the same plot – wedding plans drawing out family dysfunction – but was so much colder, crueller, and more sarcastic that watching it was like drinking vinegar. Pain and dysfunction aren’t as easy to put on the screen as one might think — we still need to like and root for the characters, despite the horrible things they do and say to each other. “Rachel Getting Married” is a textbook example of doing that well – it’s exhausting, tear-jerking, and painful, but also warm and loving and beautiful.