Is it impossible to forgive someone who has hurt you so badly? What if they are family, should you forgive them then? That is an essential questions that looms in the background and drives the plot of the heartbreaking but ultimately spiritually uplifting Rachel Getting Married.
If you thought your family was dysfunctional, then you truly have no idea. The family of Rachel Getting Married makes the Tenenbaums look like the Bradys.
Rachel Getting Married isn’t so much about Rachel. The story focuses on Kym (Anne Hathaway). Kym has been in and out of rehab for ten years and returns back to her Connecticut home to attend her sister Rachel’s (Rosemarrie DeWitt) wedding. Once Kym returns, old family tensions and tragedies are resurrected and the perfect wedding weekend turns into a near ship wreck.
What could’ve been a typical indie flick about quirky and dysfunctional characters is carefully guided away from cliche with a complex screenplay by Jenny Lumet (daughter of Sydney Lumet) and finely crafted direction from Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs). Even though this movie is a world apart from Silence of the Lambs, Demme doesn’t treat it much differently. Kym isn’t much different from Clarice Starling; both characters are haunted by a tragedy in the past that seems to in one way or another have engulfed their life and their well-being.
Rachel Getting Married‘s cinematography is like a mini tour de force. It often looks shakey like a home video, other times the screen is covered in a light shade of yellow, other times it gets blurrier as the family’s relationships get more and more strained.
As mentioned above, the movie is not about Rachel, but about Kym. It’s Hathaway’s commanding performance that turns Kym into the film’s most powerful character, as she steals every scene she’s in. It’s a huge contrast for the actress who once starred in Princess Diaries. Kym is no princess; she’s emaciated, bruised, and scarred internally in a way that to most would be an unimaginably harsh pain to ever get rid of.
Even though Kym is so flawed, Hathaway makes her so likable. She does this by focusing on her strong points and turning her into a human being who is hiding incredible will power and even has a strong sense of humor. If Hathaway continues to play characters like this, she will likely go down as one of the finest actresses of her time. In the future, critics and historians will be scratching their heads over why the Academy snubbed this performance.
Rachel Getting Married is like a double-edged sword: it is both unbelievably heartbreaking yet so uplifting at the same time. That is because it deals with the idea of redemption and the possibility that a person can face one’s demons and overlook anyone’s flaws no matter what and ultimately learn how to forgive. Rachel Getting Married gets this message across without hammering it in the audience’s face; it gets it across by showing simple, relatable human interactions. This is the kind of thing that propels a movie from good to greatness. This is one of the best movies of 2008.