Rachel Getting Married

When I first heard about this film, I was interested solely because Anne Hathaway has been a crush of mine since long before her newfound celebrity. Perhaps the most interesting I heard was when Ms Hathaway came to town to promote the film. That in itself struck me as odd. New Orleans is not a big market, certainly not worthy of personal promotion, especially since only one small theater which does not garner much profit or recognition (Canal Place) is showing it. Anyway, two radio morning jocks (Mike and Stacy) were discussing her arrival and said that the film was creating a buzz around the beautiful actress that was very much like the buzz about Heath Ledger from The Dark Knight. This struck me as not only a bizarre comparison, but an incredibly stupid one. Neither the films, actors nor characters are in any way similar or even referential. But it’s intriguing. Does it live up to the “buzz”?

Uh, no. No I have to say the film was shit and I kind of wanted to walk out.

There’s nothing worse than a film that hints at brilliance and implodes under the weight of its own self-importance. And thats exactly what happened in Rachel Getting Married. The film is a cacophony of noise drowning in it’s own hippie/ liberal/ politically correct bullshit.

THE ACTING

The thing is, Anne Hathaway is wonderful in the film. Perfect, really. Which is difficult in her case. There are actors that play themselves in every role, like jack Nicholson, or (a more contemporary reference,) Michael Cera. ANd then there are actors who give themselves over to a role, yet you are still very much aware that it’s them, such as Tom Cruise. And that is very much her situation. With actors like Hathaway, you feel as though you are seeing a completely different side of the person you’ve always known. It’s not a bad thing, or even a distracting one; just a fact. We’ve seen characters before like Hathaway’s Kim Buchman, characters whose blunt honesty is both terrifying and magnificent to witness. KIM (to her sister, Rachel): “you’re so THIN! I swear to God, you’re tiny! I would swear you were still throwing up every night!” How can you not love that?

The rest of the actors were actually pretty great as well. Especially the titular Rachel herself, Rosemary Dewitt and the less prominent, but vital mother played by Debra Winger. No, the problem is not with the acting.

THE PLOT

Kim Buchman (Hathaway) comes home from Rehab after 9 months to attend her sister’s wedding and figure out how to deal with her family and move on with her life. She spends the next 3 days making everyone uncomfortable. Including the audience. That’s pretty much it. Nothing wrong there.

OVERALL

So what is it that makes it all so bad? It’s the details of the film. You see, there’s plenty of good here besides the acting. The moments of discomfort when you know Kim is going to do something leave you squirming in your chair and feeling for the people she’s disrupting. But at the same time, you can’t help but emote with her as her family does everything it can to “handle” her and keep her out of their intended Norman Rockwell family picture. The central mystery that is presented is fairly heart-breaking. And the movie ends EXACTLY as it should. There is a LOT of good. The film is at it’s best when it sticks to the point. And that is the one thing that it does not do. This is a kitchen sink film, filled with every strange distraction you can think of. The writer (Jenny Lumet) and the director (Jonathan Demme) seem determined to show you how progressive and multi-cultural they can be, at the expense of their own point. The movie’s plot has nothing to do with post-1960’s liberal sentiment, yet it is overloaded with hippie culture. There are no less than 3 inter-racial couples present. That in and of itself isn’t a problem, except that I live in, bar none, the most multi-cultural city in America and I have never seen that many inter-racial couples in one place outside of a rap video about women washing cars with their breasts. But that isn’t a problem. There are so many other cultures needlessly present. There are two chinese people, clearly American in nationality, but curiously dressed like they’re actually from China. Now, I think that it’s good for the largely ignored asian community to get more screen time aside from movies involving ninjas, computer technicians or chess clubs… but in this case they are clearly there to show that these people will make friends or have sex with anyone as long as they aren’t from a suburban white family. They don’t even bother telling you the Asian guy’s NAME even though he has a speaking role in the film and he’s one of the groomsmen. And his wife/girlfriend/ sister/ who-the-hell knows isn’t even allowed to speak! At no time is it mentioned that the Buchman house has been turned into a hippie commune or a hostel for wayward pot heads, and yet inexplicably, there are drifters randomly laying about playing music at all hours of the day and night. And only once does anyone even make mention of them even being there!

Oh and let’s not forget the rehearsal dinner where former “Yo MTV Raps” Host, Fab Five Freddy shows up for no damn reason except to toss a little rhyme. And I’m guessing he was playing himself, but I don’t know because he popped out like a damn Jack in a Box and disappeared just as quickly. Maybe he was drunk and crashed the wedding. I don’t know! They don’t mention him otherwise! And then some crazy old black woman high off her ass on Metamucil starts rambling about how “This is exactly what Heaven is like!” Really? Heaven has recovering meth-addicts and Fab Five Freddy? Well, hell, sign me up!

Perhaps the most perplexing animal is the wedding itself. We have a white woman marrying a black man who appears to be entirely American, and yet for some reason they are married in a Hindu wedding presided over by a Rabbi. Now, the Rabbi sort of makes sense, since the central family is named Buchman, even though there is no other evidence of their ethnicity or religion. But… THERE ARE NO HINDU PEOPLE IN THE WHOLE DAMN FILM! And then at the reception there are brazilian style Carnivale belly dancers and a jamaican female rapper! It’s… retarded. There’s no sense to any of it. And there were plenty of other unnecessary elements. I just couldn’t keep track of them.

Good stories are rarely singular in nature. There are almost always subplots, whether explored or hinted at. It’s fine to hint at a characters backstory and move on as long as you never actually address it. But in a story, once you address a subplot you HAVE to finish the story. You CANNOT just leave it open. But they do it over an over again in the film. And sometimes at the expense of more relevant subplots, such as Kim’s possible love interest, himself a recovering addict.

Basically, do not pay to see Rachel Getting Married. Wait until it comes on Lifetime or Oxygen. (Believe me, it’ll be on one of them.)

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