Rating: 1.5 stars
I can only imagine that admirers of Jonathan Demme’s Rachel Getting Married—and they are legion—will describe it thusly: A big gumbo of human experience—laughter, sex, music, pain, friendship, family, and love—all stirred together in one rich pot.
To which I say, what a crock.
As the film starts, Kym (Anne Hathaway, who's excellent) is being let out of rehab to attend the wedding of her sister Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt). Kym, apparently, has been an addict for 10 years—she’s extremely needy, has a big dark secret (the kind of melodramatic plot twist that undermines the supposed naturalism of the story), and tends to think the whole world revolves around her pain. Somewhere, buried deep beneath the many cluttered layers of Rachel Getting Married is actually a pretty good story about the way an addict sibling can cannibalize an entire family.
Demme is certainly interested in the ways that Kym wreaks havoc on the entire affair—but he’s equally interested in throwing a heckuva party. The wedding, actually held at the family’s rambling Victorian home in Connecticut, seems to be taking place at a performing arts center, or maybe even Artscape (Rachel’s fiancee is a music producer). Every few minutes, a rock band sets up, or a fiddler takes out his violin, a DJ spins some reggae, or a standup comedian riffs for a few minutes on the nature of love.
One of the film’s narrative devices is this: Demme gets the party cooking with laughter, singing, maybe a wacky family game and then—blam!—some hideous family secret or awkward revelation will disrupt the merriment. Because that’s life, right? If he says so.