better late than never
I guess I’m pretty late to hop on the bandwagon for this movie, but anyone who hasn’t should make it a priority to see Rachel Getting Married. It is an immaculate piece of filmmaking, organic and honest to a degree that is extremely rare in American cinema. Jonathan Demme directed, and his work is deft and utterly fearless – the majority of the movie is shot on shaky handheld and filmed in a single house, the story revolving around Anne Hathaway’s character, Kym, as she returns from rehab after nine months just as her sister, Rachel, (a pitch-perfect Rosemarie DeWitt) is preparing to get married. But to call this just another story of recovery from drug addiction would be a gross-oversimplification – Demme, aided by a harmonic, flawless script from first-time writer Jenny Lumet, handles the human drama with an arresting, exacting grace; it is to his great credit that he chooses to trust his actors to be handle the many long, dialogue heavy scenes and to endow them with the necessary weight. And indeed, the film is superbly acted on all fronts: bit players Tunde Adebimpe, Bill Irwin and Mather Zickel all give vital performances. And for all that has been made of Anne Hathaway‘s performance, her work is remarkable, brave and deeply felt.
But what really surprised me was that Rachel Getting Married turned out to be so much more than just a very good character piece. For as frightening and perfectly played as Kym is, the film itself is has a kind of Chekhovian vision which has become ever-so-scarce in American cinema; Jarmusch‘s Broken Flowers, Linklater‘s Before Sunset, and Darren Aronofsky‘s recent The Wrestler are some of the only recent films that have accomplished something similar. In the face of many of the films that have garnered major praise in the last year or so – the grandiose, over-thought Synecdoche, New York, the stilted Vicky Christina Barcelona, or the woefully predictable, toothless Slumdog Millionaire – Rachel Getting Married feels like a minor revelation. I defy you to watch how the camera tracks Kym’s hesitant, insecure movements through the hallways of her own house while the wedding’s string band rehearses in the yard outside, the imperfect sound winding in through the windows, and not be moved by the scene’s startling artistry. The entire film is like this – perfectly, lovingly made and respectful of its characters to the highest degree.