Monday, April 20, 2009

Rachel Getting Married

It's hard to tell if the point of Rachel Getting Married is to make you feel the turmoil of a recovering drug addict attempting to rejoin her family or to make you feel like every wedding you've ever attended was completely lame.

RGM stars Anne Hathaway as Kim, a drug addict released from her latest stint in rehab just in time to join the final preparations before her older sister's wedding. Kim's family inhabits one of those shabbily wealthy sprawling old Victorian homes in Connecticut. The kind filled with cozy furniture and expansive wrap-around porches that make it hard to believe a Waspy drug addict could live there. In fact, we never learn how Kim became a drug addict, just that she did and made a mess of herself and her family including one tragic accident that created an irreparable rift in the family, which I won't spoil for you here.

Despite the tragedy, Rachel's family itself is a paragon of feel-goodiness, including her overly attentive father (who is played by Mister Noodle's Brother on Sesame Street!), her Mother Earth stepmother and her straight-arrow older sister Rachel. We watch as Kim tries to insert herself in Rachel's wedding weekend, resulting in awkward, painful interactions in which Kim can't seem to stop stealing the spotlight from her sister and crowing "but look at me, I'm the addict!" It succeeds mightily in making you feel the same discomfort and anger at Kim as her family does.

Anne Hathaway got a ton of buzz about her role in this film and deservedly so. She ain't no Princess here, at turns painfully endearing and shamelessly raw. Her transparent skin and bloomy eyes make her perfectly suited to play a fragile soul teetering on the edge of a precipice between suburban propriety and gritty addiction. She's perfectly matched with her wounded mother, played by Debra Winger. Yes, that Debra Winger from Urban Cowboy.

The only off-notes of the film come from the wedding itself, which we follow in deep detail from rehearsal through reception. Rachel is marrying a man from....somewhere tropical? Or African? I can't tell. He wears unfortunate glasses, but everyone seems to think he's too swell to care.

He's a musician and so the house is dripping at every moment with a hodgepodge of ethnically diverse musicians playing at all hours of the day. The wedding itself is a multicultural, Bohemian stewpot of reggae singers, someone I think was a monk and one girl who I'm pretty sure was a singer from American Idol (Tamyra Gray, if my eyes don't deceive). The whole wedding feels like the "Teach the World to Sing" Coca Cola commercial. And it's almost as sugary.

It's a bit hard to swallow all the ethnically diverse love and energy pouring in great quantities from every scene of the wedding party. Where were the boring old people complaining the chicken was too dry? Where was the drunken uncle who gets a little handsy after too many gin rickeys? Do they not know about the chicken dance in Connecticut?!!!!! Sorry, but the crowd was just a little too perfectly diverse and in love with one another to be altogether believable.

Otherwise, this is a smart little film filled with a great deal of emotion and earnest pain. Kim's plight is raw and transparent, and as a viewer, you're pulled fully into the complex emotions her family has for her. You want to root for Kim, but you want to slap her too. Just like real family.

No comments: