Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rachel Getting Married

I first saw this movie with my friends Annie and Greg at a film screening. It was so hot and stuffy in the theater (as I unfortunately realized is typical for screenings) that I felt like I was in a coat closet stuffed with 20 other people, all wearing wool sweaters and breathing recycled air. It was killer. But the movie blew us away.

Anne Hathaway stars as Kym, the title character's little sister, coming home from rehab for the wedding. And there, my friends, is a story. But on top of this perfectly set up plot is a film exquisite in its telling.

The music, although acting as a soundtrack in terms of emotional cues, is played throughout the film by wedding guests. We only hear what they hear. The camera is hand-held, following Kym from room to room, gathering bits of memories, bits of heartbreak, pieces of her past and of this family's present. And we know exactly what it feels like to come home. We know it feels warm, cozy, normal, yet always somewhat sad. For each time we leave and come back, home exists in a more abstract form. Home is where the heart is, right? Sure. But there is something to be said for quilts and coffee mugs and squeaky floorboards. We still yearn for that home. For that comfort. And for Kym, it feels quite removed.

Rachel and Sidney's wedding is a crazy all encompassing feast-of-pleasures centering around... what, exactly? The traditional wedding is turned on its head, not landing on any one particular theme. As quoted from an email exchange I had with a friend about this particular film... what i thought was so poignant in Rachel Getting Married was the Utopian version of religion, race, class, culture, and general divide in America. The entire event was a complete fabrication of what we want to exist in liberal idealism. And it was lovely! ...but still Utopian in its state. Its easy to watch and congratulate ourselves for coming so far and melding so effortlessly but i don't think we're there yet... something to aim for.

This film was Shakespearean in its telling (which delights me to no end) in that the story was focused around a wedding. The song and dance was completed and shown in its entirety- which is rare for films today, no? The event itself happened as it would have in life and the merriment proved much needed breathing room for the horrified audience... post-car-accident-mother-slapping- painful-toast-giving-build-up. Shakespeare often did the same thing.

Hathaway was achingly flawless in this role, a giant leap from The Princess Diaries and Get Smart... yeek. She was brilliant and beautiful and absolutely nailed the narcissism of an addict... the frail and powerful confidence so earth shatteringly painful in its interactions. We root for Kym. But we also kind of want her to stop talking. This is where the title becomes eminent... Rachel(!) getting married, not Kym Coming Home.

Rosemarie DeWitt, as Rachel, clarifies this point in more than one scene (I'm counting three). This isn't new. Kym making everyone uncomfortable, completely on her terms, has been happening for their entire lives. Dead brother or not... we're kind of sick of it. And well done, Anne Hathaway, for coming out lovable, for ending up endearing and whole. I don't know how you did it.

There is so much more to say about this film. Gah, SO MUCH. Bill Irwin shone as the emotional and love, love, loving father... the final interactions between Rachel, Kym and their mother ("I'll just slip out the back, I don't want to make a scene.")... Emma, Sidney, Kieran... Ethan... the wedding dancers and band members, one of whom Alison realized that she had made out with- ha!.... the DISHWASHER SCENE!...the fact that there was a black standard poodle named Olive. But I won't ruin it for you.

This movie was so good that I kind of want to see what happens next to these people with whom I became so very intimate in 113 minutes. Is it completely lame for indie films to make sequels? Probably... but I'm lame too, and I would attend its opening night, coat closet and all.

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