I’m not going to say that Rachel’s house doesn’t exist out there somewhere, because it probably does in some form. I’m just saying it is cooler than my childhood home or any I’ve ever visited. Maybe this shouldn’t be a surprise as screenwriter Jenny Lumet is the daughter of filmmaker Sydney Lumet. In my next life, I want to be born to rich and cool artist parents.
Jonathan Demme’s latest film is set in the bohemian family household of Anne Hathaway’s Kym and Rosemarie DeWitt’s Rachel. Kym has been released from an extended, court-appointed stint in a rehab facility just in time to attend her sister’s wedding being held at her father’s house. Hathaway is remarkable as Kym searching for her sea legs while wearing cynicism, cleverness and that brand of destructive honesty and self-deprecation as a shield from the world around her. That world is one in which she has clearly fucked up too many times on too large an order to be owed forgiveness, but that insists on giving it to her anyway. Kym is a real human and a mixture of seemingly contrary qualities. She is unwilling to accept her forgiveness or forgive herself but is still a monstrous pain in the ass insistent on being the center of attention. She does this the best way she knows how; continual miniature personal catastrophes.
Demme seems to have built in the freedom to move anywhere in this film, to follow improvisations wherever they may take the characters. The strong ensemble cast, including a truly interesting performance from TV On The Radio‘s Tunde Adebimpe, enables this approach and breathes much life into the world of the film. The thread of the story is nicely woven into the seemingly improvisational environment and builds tension, earns empathy and propels the pacing forward.
At the end of most of the bigger films I see theatrically, the audience tends to shuffle out separate from one another and the conversations around me seem to be unrelated or peripherally related to the film that was just seen. Rachel Getting Married is in that rarer class of film-going experiences that stirs the excitement that the form holds for me most deeply. This film is a starting point for the thoughts and observations we have in our own lives; spawning discussions and revelations amongst our own friends, loved ones or perhaps a stranger who just underwent the same experience you did in the hallowed darkness that is the movie theatre.