Rachel Getting Married (2008, Jonathan Demme)

Movie took some adjusting. Firstly I’d heard this was a marvelous best-of-year movie, so when I saw the shaky-cam cinematography I thought “seriously?”. Then I’d been selling it to Katy as romantic comedy, and it turned out very dramatic, not so funny or romantic. But once I straightened out that I was watching a shaky-cam unromantic drama I’d say it was a very good one of those.

Kim (Anne Brokeback Hathaway) gets a weekend leave from rehab for the wedding of sister Rachel (Rosemarie Dewitt) and beau Sidney (Tunde Adebimpe). While out, she raises all sorts of hell with her sister, mother (Debra Winger of early-80’s prestige pics) and father (Bill “Mr. Noodle” Irwin). Comes out that Kim killed their little brother in a drug-binge car accident, and now that she’s sober for the first time in a decade, they can talk to her about it. Wedding goes off, party is much fun, Kim returns to rehab.

Acting (especially by Hathaway and Irwin) is very good, and Kim’s character is strong – one of those deep writer/director/actor character-study things like Happy-Go-Lucky, I’d suppose. The family thing is strong overall, but groom Tunde Adebimpe, having just blown me away at a TV On The Radio concert a week earlier, didn’t do hardly anything in this movie. He came to life during what is probably the longest dishwasher-stacking scene in cinema history, but otherwise he was background, and his family existed as a friendly mass of people, not as a bunch of distinguishable individuals. Not a single scrap of racial-relations dialogue. Critics are chalking that up to unrealistic liberalism on Demme’s part, but apparently it’s because the groom was gonna be a white actor so there was no race in the script, heh.

Written by the granddaughter of the good witch in The Wiz. First fiction feature I’ve seen from Demme in 15 years (Philadelphia), wow. Robyn Hitchcock got a song and a half, including some close-up shots, nice, and Tunde sang Neil Young’s “Unknown Legend” acapella at the ceremony, also nice.

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