Friday, December 05, 2008

Rachel Getting Married: A Four-Sentence Movie Review

Maybe I'm speaking for myself here, but if you've been to (or participated in) a good share of weddings in your lifetime - even if someone close to you is getting married - they all seem kind of the same, and it's kind of the same with wedding-centered movies, as well, with story beats that includes the groom having cold feet, the bride being a control-freak monster, the interfering mother, and the best man/good friend guest who's just a little too cool for school and manages to make some fun for himself.

What's so refreshing about Rachel Getting Married is that none of these formulaic elements apply, so all of the characters and their foibles felt very real, and while watching the movie, I kept thinking to myself that this was a wedding I really would've enjoyed attending - as long as I had some distance from the family drama (enough of my own, thanks).

Anne Hathaway's character, Kym, comes into the story like a looming natural disaster, a destructive force ready to lay her narcissism, manipulation, and guilt trips all over the family that's dared to move on with their lives while she's in drug rehab and living with a tragedy no one should have to carry on his or her own, and though everyone seems to dread her arrival, cringing in anticipation of what terrible thing she might say or do to ruin her sister's nuptuals, you realize that those feelings of hurt, resentment, and hate are only so passionate because they're fueled by an inherent love.

With one of the main secondary characters being a musician (and played by Tunde Adebimpe of TV on the Radio), you might expect music to be a part of the movie, but Jonathan Demme cleverly utilizes the various musicians scattered around the family compound - out in the yard or on the porch, practicing what they'll be playing for the wedding and jamming among contemporaries - to provide a score for the film, and though maybe it's a bit precious for them to be playing sad music when Kym is feeling melancholy, for example, the overall effect is an unexpected, yet understated, surprise.