Rachel Getting Married
The issue in Rachel Getting Married (not the issue with it thankfully) is that despite the title, despite every pull of the title character, this movie is essentially the movie concerned with her sister Kym (played by Anne Hathaway), a recently clean addict whose spiral of same and guilt resembles more the box than the beguiling Pandora – a vacuous hole for the love and attention she craves from her father (Bill Irwin) and sister Rachel (Rosemarie Dewitt) and the guilt she feels and also what this film seeks to rally against.
Thankfully this is not a one woman show. Despite Hathaway’s stirring performance (she has undecidedly mastered the ability to convey emotions through those piercing eyes, something that often still felt vacant or almost unnecessarily bright in her other roles) and the willingness of both herself and the director to show Kym at her worst, the movie still has the astute foresight to go beyond the banal theme of one-dimensional addiction seen in made for TV movies (generally starring Cheryl Ladd or her Charlie’s Angels compatriots) and to never restrict our sympathies. We see the effect she has on the entire family and convincingly so as one’s sympathies can often change several times within a scene.
One point that has been praised by others but I question myself is the somewhat thinly veiled liberalism the film tries to exude and disappointingly, at these points the movie again shifts back to Rachel. Rachel’s family, for all intensive purposes a family or musicians and vagabonds in Connecticut, are celebrating her marriage to Sydney, a black man from Hawaii. Rachel and Kym’s stepmother (Anna Deavere Smith) appears to be black. The ceremony is some sort of musical Hindu ceremony. Perhaps it’s Kym’s actions as Shiva the Destroyer that actually foster this complete breakdown of racial barriers; there are more important things to be focused on than prejudice. Unfortunately, there is still enough time for repeated mentions that Sydney’s cousin who returned from service in Iraq should be brought home for good – we got the idea the first time.
The saving grace to their multiculturalism is the inherent lived-in feel to this movie portrayed through the use of the unsteady camera and perhaps a large number of nonprofessional actors for secondary roles.
It is Rachel’s role in this piece to remove the melodrama created by her sister and Kym’s to save it from cynicism. The perhaps half hour shared with Debra Winger as their mother only reminds us what we’ve been missing as a result of her semi-retirement these last few years.
Despite all the flaws one can see in this film, they are also the flaws of the characters and as a result, one can only love it more for it’s openness into what it is to be both human and family.