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58 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A painful 5 stars
Well, I should introduce myself as a recovering addict (we never really stop recovering do we?), and from that I base my entire review. There is a moment in this film when Hathaway wonders if the band of gypsies on the porch can stop playing for just five minutes; and I couldn't agree more. Funny thing is, I know why Demme put that violin there; from her first scene in...
Published on May 11, 2009 by Sambson

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47 of 66 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tedious examination of self-loving families at wedding cannot be saved by Hathaway or tragic subplot
Jonathan Demme ("Silence of the Lambs," "Something Wild," "Philadelphia") can make a darn good film. When I heard that he had "returned to basics" with this movie, which also featured a dramatic star turn by the ever-likeable Anne Hathaway ("The Devil Wears Prada"), I had to give it a shot.

What a mistake. "Rachel Getting Married" is the most tedious film I...
Published on June 25, 2009 by Scott Schiefelbein


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58 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A painful 5 stars, May 11, 2009
By 
Sambson (North Carolina) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Rachel Getting Married (DVD)
Well, I should introduce myself as a recovering addict (we never really stop recovering do we?), and from that I base my entire review. There is a moment in this film when Hathaway wonders if the band of gypsies on the porch can stop playing for just five minutes; and I couldn't agree more. Funny thing is, I know why Demme put that violin there; from her first scene in the house, to the dish-loading scene...it keeps the tension up. You see, this whole film is from the freshly rehabed addict's point of view, and that's no fun place to be; as watching this film will show. I've been clean for 6 years now, and was shocked to find there were times I could hardly sit through the film. Demme does an amazing job of using every element at his disposal to push the envelope of the viewer's willingness to stick with this story; just as the main character is being pushed inexorably and unwillingly ahead. The celebration scene with the never-ending musical parade gets louder and amps up the energy way past when most filmmakers would cut the scene; that's absolutely true. But for me it was because we (the audience) are supposed to be in Hathaway's head; and the whole experience is just dancing on her raw nerves. This film reminded me more of PERMANENT MIDNIGHT, REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, 28 DAYS or CLEAN AND SOBER than any other film with WEDDING in the title. But of those, only REQUIEM further explores every technique at the director's disposal to push the audience into the same shoes as the main characters. Every addict should see this one. Five stars for sure; a very painful five. (It is always a pleasure to watch Debra Winger do what she does in front of a camera.)
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75 of 94 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hathaway Excels in a Fierce Drama About Coming Home and Facing Demons, October 12, 2008
This review is from: Rachel Getting Married (DVD)
Sitting through a movie about sibling rivalry at a wedding, especially one starring the doe-eyed and normally facile Anne Hathaway, sounds like a potentially painful way to spend an evening. However, as directed by Jonathan Demme and written by Jenny Lumet (daughter of master filmmaker Sidney Lumet), this 2008 drama is not a lightweight star vehicle à la Julia Roberts circa 1997 but a darkly realistic look at the dysfunction within a family thrown into disarray. Using an almost cinéma vérité style, Demme explores how a wedding reopens old wounds within a family in a naturalistic way made all the more palpable by the emotional acuity in Lumet's screenplay.

The focus is on Kym, a chain-smoking former model who has spent the last several months in rehab. As a substance abuser whose only armor is cutting sarcasm, she is absurdly hopeful that her sister Rachel's wedding will be a harbinger for unconditional love from her upscale Connecticut family. Therein lies the problem as her narcissism provides the catalyst for long-simmering tensions that uncork during the preparations for a lavish, Indian-themed wedding weekend (the movie's working title was "Dancing with Shiva"). It soon becomes clear that Kym's link to a past tragedy is at the core of the unpredictable dynamics that force confrontations and regrettable actions among the four principal family members. Rachel appears to be Kym's sensible opposite, but their alternately close and contentious relationship shows how they have not fully recovered from past resentments. Their remarried father Paul is a bundle of loving support to the point of unctuous for both his girls, while their absentee mother Abby is the exact opposite - guarded and emotionally isolated until she is forced to face both her accountability and anger in one shocking moment.

Anne Hathaway is nothing short of a revelation as Kym. Instead of playing the role against the grain of her screen persona, she really shows what would happen if one of her previous characters - say, Andy Sachs in The Devil Wears Prada - went another route entirely. The actress' studiousness and persistence are still very much in evidence, but the story allows her to use these traits under the guise of a self-destructive, often unlikable addict who gains attention through her outrageous self-absorption. As the put-upon title character, Rosemarie DeWitt realistically shows Rachel's sense of pain and resentment as the attention veers to Kym during plans for the most important day of her life. Bill Irwin is winning as the unapologetically grateful Paul, but it's really Debra Winger who steals her all-too-brief scenes by bringing the remote character of Abby to life. Now in her early fifties, the famously tempestuous actress seems to rein in her innate fieriness to play a woman who consciously disconnects herself from the family she raised. What remains is a crumbling façade of propriety masking this obvious gap. It's similar to Mary Tyler Moore's turn as the cold mother in Ordinary People, but casting the normally vibrant Winger (who probably would have played Kym a quarter century ago) is a masterstroke.

The film is not perfect. Demme's home-video approach, while novel at first, proves wearing over the 114-minute running time. Pacing is also a problem, especially when the focus turns to the minutiae of the wedding ceremony and reception. I wish Demme could have cut this part of the film, so we could get to the icy, unfinished resolution sooner. As a filmmaker who obviously enjoys making music concert films (Stop Making Sense, Neil Young - Heart of Gold), there are quite a few musical performances presented in total. However, for non-aficionados, it may prove too much over time. While it's refreshing to see interracial marriages treated so casually (Lumet's grandmother is legend Lena Horne), Demme makes almost too big a point in presenting a global community though the diverse music and the wedding's multi-cultural themes. The movie starts to feel like a Putumayo collection of third-world performances. Still, Demme's intentions can't be faulted, and neither can the piercing work of Hathaway and Winger.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a popcorn movie, November 16, 2009
This review is from: Rachel Getting Married (DVD)
I want to start by saying that Rachel Getting Married isn't a movie for the faint of heart. There is conflict and lots of it with very little in the way of resolution. Honestly, I don't quite see how anybody could *enjoy* this movie if they didn't get anything cathartic out of it; but I have a number of friends who couldn't directly relate and still appreciated what they saw. That's the first thing you need to know about Rachel Getting Married: despite its seemingly innocuous title, it is not a movie made to entertain. It's a movie made to express.

A possible side effect of this is that Rachel Getting Married isn't a movie for people looking for a strong narrative. This is an exercise in voyeurism. You get to be a fly on the wall at this wedding and the events surrounding it. You get to sit through the highs and lows the the borderline disgustingly schmaltzy ceremony. You get to be put in the almost painfully awkward scenario of a visitor sitting in a room with a fighting family -- emotionally removed from the conflict but unable to escape it and unable to not form your own sympathies.

I ought to close by saying that, if you come from a family that doesn't confront its difficulties, or if you've never been to an intensely hipster wedding; then you may, like many other reviewers, think that this movie is in no way representative of reality. Well, I've attended multiple weddings almost exactly like this one for friends of my family, and the general motion and flow of the family conflict is absolutely spot on. It may be an extreme case, but it's meant to be.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So glad I watched it, July 29, 2013
This review is from: Rachel Getting Married (DVD)
If you've ever had an alcoholic/drug addict in your family or among your friends, you will find yourself in this cast of characters. If you haven't had this sort of experience, it will help you understand how addictions can destroy families even as they struggle to save themselves.
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47 of 66 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tedious examination of self-loving families at wedding cannot be saved by Hathaway or tragic subplot, June 25, 2009
By 
Scott Schiefelbein (Portland, Oregon United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Rachel Getting Married (DVD)
Jonathan Demme ("Silence of the Lambs," "Something Wild," "Philadelphia") can make a darn good film. When I heard that he had "returned to basics" with this movie, which also featured a dramatic star turn by the ever-likeable Anne Hathaway ("The Devil Wears Prada"), I had to give it a shot.

What a mistake. "Rachel Getting Married" is the most tedious film I have seen since David Lynch's "Dune." these are two very different films that share one essential trait - I could not wait for either of them to end. But while "Dune" suffered through trying to adapt a mammoth, dense, incredibly popular sci-fi novel to cinematic form, "Rachel Getting Married" extends what should be a lark - a wedding! - into painful tedium.

The movie starts promisingly. Anne Hathaway plays Kym, who is picked up from rehab for a weekend furlough with the family. Her sister, Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt), is getting married at the family's posh Connecticut suburban home. The house quickly establishes Rachel's family as just falling short of Wealthy, but easily qualify as Extremely Comfortable.

The more people you meet in this movie, the more depressing it generally gets. Everyone invited to Rachel's wedding is so replete with satisfaction at the wonderfulness of themselves and everyone around them that you want to tear your hair out. Speeches at rehearsal dinners drag on interminably because everyone has Something Important to say. The wedding is a bizarrely multi-cultural affair. Rachel's fiance, Sidney (Tunde Adebimpe) is an African-American musician - for no apparent reason other than to establish how amazing Rachel is. Their wedding, again for no apparent reason, is Indian-themed, with Indian-inspired wedding dresses and bridesmaid gowns, even down to an elephant on the wedding cake. Everyone plays a musical instrument or sings some type of ethnic song. An elderly friend or uncle, resplendent in his Texas line-dancing wear, uses the rehearsal-dinner toast of drunken uncles everywhere, "May the only ups and downs you have be in the bedroom."

Just when you think this wedding can't drag on any longer, a Carnivale band and dancers drop in from Rio for some more resplendent multiculturalism.

Only two things save this movie from the trashbin. The first is Kym's rehab process. Kym is damaged goods and is making only halting progress through the Twelve Steps. Anne Hathaway, normally associated with Shiny Happy People roles, gets gritty and understated with this performance. She plays an anti-heroine very well, always believable and both sympathetic and infuriating.

The other part of this movie that works is a subplot involving a not-so-distant family tragedy. This tragedy explains many of the scars Kym's family tries to ignore and features a near-movie stealing performance by Debra Winger as Kym's mother, who left her family behind. As a parent, all I can say is that this subplot was handled really, really well, pushing emotional buttons without being too heavy-handed.

But that is not enough to save this bloated film. No movie wedding should be this long or feature a family this self-righteous unless it is an outright satire. Roger Ebert, in his review, wishes that he could have attended a wedding like this. All I can say is, if I were invited to attend a wedding with Rachel's family, he can go in my place any day.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could have been better, May 29, 2009
This review is from: Rachel Getting Married (DVD)
The film caught my attention right away and held my interest for a long time, mostly because of the character, Kym, brilliantly played by Ann Hathaway. The idea was good---the recovering drug addict going home on a weekend break from rehab for her sister's wedding only to face the demons that drove her into drugs in the first place.

Kym is the girl everyone hates..the family Bad Girl...no matter what she does to extricate herself from the role, she just digs herself in deeper. At first I disliked her, just like everyone else (except her saintly dad) but as the film progressed she was the only one who had any credibility. I didn't find the character of Rachel to be very sympathetic. Yeh, it was her wedding and here was Kym trying to take over the show, but somehow I just couldn't warm up to her...maybe it was the actress, who had no looks, charm or charisma.

Where the film lost me was the really long, overly shmaltzy rehersal dinner and the equally overly long, really shmaltzy wedding. Egad! At first the toasts to the beloved couple were charming and the reactions of the very colorful group were sweet. But a little of that goes a long way and this was really overdone. We were led to believe that the couple were the most wonderful people who ever decided to get married...but we were shown nothing at all to justify all of the hyperbole. The idea of having them be inter racial perhaps was the justification in the mind of the film maker for all the hoop-la, but I found the whole thing so overblown that it made me want to scream. Then the wedding was done in Hindu style and then there were Polynesian belly dancers or were they Aztec?--who knows, who cares. Oh yeah, a break dancer and don't forget the really nice Black guy with glasses who was home on leave from Iraq...But it was lovely and everyone ended up loving everyone, even the divorced parents and ....Well I could see why the poor girl took drugs in the first place.

A good idea gone awry...someone needed to pare this film down to the basics and it might have been genuinely moving. Demme got carried away with the celebration and all the heartwarmingness....which just turned a whole lot of people off. For a film that tries so hard to show human emotion and the power of family love, it was curiously un-moving.

I gave it three stars for the acting which was pretty good. Besides Hathaway, Debra Winger was excellent as her mother, and Bill Irwin (whom I fell in love with as the mute mime on Northern Exposure) was wonderful.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Family's Dysfunction: Raw Wounds Still Smoulder, May 3, 2009
By 
R. Crane (Washington, DC United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Rachel Getting Married (DVD)
"Rachel Getting Married" is a story of masked-over family dysfunction. A young woman, Kym (Anne Hathaway) is released from Rehab to attend her sister Rachel's interracial, multi-cultural wedding, and during the course of wedding preparations, the rawness and bitterness of the family's wounds and resentments are torn open.

Anne Hathaway's stunning portrayal of a recovering drug addict responsible for her younger brother's death, is the highlight of the movie. Her luminosity jumps from the screen and who knew when she played those sweet Disney princesses that there was so much depth to her talent? Debra Winger as her cold and isolated mother also gives a memorable performance. But, the film itself is not memorable and at times it is irritating.

There are too many gatherings of all the wedding party, sharing lame reminisces and nervous laughter. We are repeatedly stuck as viewers at their table or sharing their festivities and wishing that we could escape. The hand-held camera technique is annoying; it distracts from the story with jerkiness and looks amateurish, a la Robert Altman's worst moments. Overall disappointing, but it serves as a surprising vehicle for wonderful performances from Anne Hathaway and Debra Winger.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Stinker., April 28, 2009
Despite the fine acting by Ann Hathaway, Jonathan Demme manages to destroy this movie ( I cannot bring myself to call it a film ) with his sad moviemaker's indulgence towards his characters and his story. His attempts to manipulate the viewer are laughably transparent and fall flat. There is a scene with the family watching a character load the dishwasher that is about as bad as a scene can be. What was Demme smoking when he made this? Bleech.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Horrible, April 26, 2009
By 
Sorry Anne... (New York, NY, USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Rachel Getting Married (DVD)
I can't remember seeing a movie as bad as this. The quality of the picture and the editing was almost amateurish. Can't believe the Oscars and Golden Globes even considered this for an award. The only reason I gave it one star is because the web site wouldn't let this go through without a rating. It deserves 0 or negative stars.
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20 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Brave Performance, Bogus Film, June 5, 2009
This review is from: Rachel Getting Married (DVD)
In Roger Ebert's review of "Rachel Getting Married," he quotes a friend as saying something along the lines of "Wouldn't you love to go to a wedding like that?" Really? I couldn't wait for it to be over. With the black groom's family decked out in traditional African garb, the East Indian ceremony (with the bride and bridesmaids in saris), the belly dancer and the samba band, I felt like I was trapped in some pretentious, politically correct fashion week shindig produced for the United Colors of Bennetton. Director Jonathan Demme, in the DVD extras, talks about how "real" this wedding is, how it reflects his circle of friends and the diverse world we've all come to live in. What do you mean "we," white man? Perhaps if I were a rich and famous Academy Award-winning director I might go to weddings like Rachel's...perhaps. But Ebert's friend's comment reflects how much of a fantasy the film is; no-one really goes to these types of weddings because they only exist in affected independent Art Films that purport to deal with The Meaning of Life. (Or is it The Human Condition?)

And Life, Love, Loss, Failure, Hurt, Anger, Pain, Disappointment...they're just some of the emotions "Rachel Getting Married" attempts to deal with. Unfortunately, Demme seems to have put more of his energies into the look of the film than the content. When one is more impressed by a gorgeous wedding cake - and man, is it exquisite! - than by the scene in which a mother and daughter finally confront one another about past betrayals, you know something is terribly wrong. To Demme and screenwriter Jenny Lumet's credit, most of this dysfunctional family's conflicts remain unresolved. The most bitter one, however, between Rachel and her junkie sister Kym (Anne Hathaway), is swiftly and inexplicably wrapped up in an unbelievable, neat little pink bow. (One gets the feeling that Demme didn't want the drama to get in the way of the samba band and belly dancer.) It's probably the sourest of this film's many sour notes.

The only reason to see this film is the extraordinary performance of Anne Hathaway, who proves, with courage and fierce conviction, that she's an actress who can do anything. She's frightening, funny, heartbreaking and passionate...in some scenes all at the same time. As reviewers have noted - and they're right - it's a career changer. The other performances don't register much, except to annoy. Most disappointing is Debra Winger as Hathaway's mother. Demme (again in the DVD extras) talks about circumventing (i.e. dismissing) Winger's "technique" by telling her, more often than not, to "just do the scene." As the director, Demme has a right to do whatever he wants...but when you're dealing with an actress who's given some of the great film performances of the past 25 years (and you're dragging her out of semi-retirement), the least you can do is meet her halfway.

The best I can say about "Rachel Getting Married" is that I saw it at home, which allowed me to fast-forward through it's many cringe-worthy moments. (Particularly the groom's a cappella version of Neil Young's "Unknown Legend.") I put down the remote, however, when Ms. Hathaway was onscreen. How frustrating that she's giving such a must-see performance in such an avoid-at-all-costs film.
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Rachel Getting Married
Rachel Getting Married by Anne Hathaway (DVD - 2009)
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