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Rachel Getting Married (2008) - Plot Summary Poster

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Summaries

  • A young woman who has been in and out of rehab for the past ten years, returns home for the weekend for her sister's wedding.

  • Kym Buchman has been in drug rehab for nine months, during which time she has been clean. She is released temporarily from the facility to attend her sister Rachel Buchman's wedding. During her release, Kym is staying at the family home, where the wedding is taking place. As such, it is like Grand Central Station for the duration of Kym's stay, which may not be the most conducive situation for her in constantly being exposed to the watching eyes of those who know and don't yet know her, but know of her situation. The reunion with her family members starts off well enough, but issues around Kym's release from rehab quickly surface. Kym and Rachel's father, Paul Buchman, wants to make sure that Kym is all right at all times, which to Kym feels instead like he doesn't trust her. Rachel slowly begins to resent Kym's situation taking over what is supposed to be the happiest day of her life, some of which is directed by Kym, some of which isn't. One person present but largely not included in the last minute wedding planning work is Kym and Rachel's mother, Abby, from who Paul is divorced. The two have since married other people. Outwardly, Abby has been nurturing of Kym throughout her life. However, what is one of the key moments in Kym's drug induced life, and in their collective family's lives, may profoundly affect the wedding. Beyond how Kym's presence affects the wedding, the goings-on of the family during Kym's short stay may either bring them closer together or tear them apart.

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  • Kym is released from rehab for a few days so she can go home to attend her sister Rachel's wedding. The home environment is always challenging for a recovering addict, no less so when the visit is only for a few days. While the sisters feel genuine affection for one another, there is tension in their relationship. Rachel feels that her father dotes on Kym far too much and Kym is upset to learn that Rachel has selected a friend to be her maid of honor. Their father is genuinely concerned about Kym's well-being but doesn't see the stress the relationship is causing. Both women also have to deal with their selfish mother who is clearly more concerned with her own well-being ahead of that of her children. Underlying the family's dynamic is a tragedy that occurred many years previously and for which Kym is held by some to be responsible.

  • Rachel and Sidney decide to get married, and Rachel's friend, Emma, is to be the maid of honor. Arrangements for a traditional Indian service are made. However, much to Emma's chagrin, she is replaced by Kym, Rachel's substance-abusing sister who appears shortly before the engagement. It is on the day of the formal engagement that Rachel and the rest of the family will realize that involving Kym may have been a huge mistake, the past will be re-visited and skeletons will start surfacing from hitherto closed and forgotten closets.


Spoilers

The synopsis below may give away important plot points.

Synopsis

  • Kym (Anne Hathaway) is released from rehab for a few days so she can go home to attend the wedding of her sister Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt) in her Connecticut home town. She is picked up from the clinic by her father and his new wife. Upon arrival at Rachel's house where the wedding is to be held, the atmosphere is strained between Kym and her family members as they struggle to reconcile themselves with her past and present. Kym's father shows intense concern for her well-being and whereabouts, which Kym interprets as mistrust. She also resents her sister's choice of her best friend Emma (Anisa George), rather than Kym, to be her maid of honor. Rachel, for her part, resents the attention her sister's drug addiction is drawing away from her wedding, a resentment that comes to a head at the rehearsal dinner, where Kym, amid toasts from friends and family, takes the microphone to offer an apology for her past actions, as part of her twelve-step program.

    Underlying the family's dynamic is a tragedy that occurred many years previously, which Kym retells at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. As a teenager, Kym was responsible for the death of her young brother Ethan, who was left in her care one day; driving home from a nearby park, an intoxicated Kym had lost control of the car, driving over a bridge and into a lake, where her brother drowned. Kym and the whole family apparently never recovered from the shock.

    The day before the wedding, as Rachel, Kym, and the other bridesmaids are getting their hair done, Kym is approached by a man who she knew in an earlier stint in rehab. He thanks her for the strength she gave him through a story that Kym told out loud in rehab about having been molested by an uncle and having cared for her sister, who was anorexic. Rachel, hearing this, storms out of the salon. The story, it turns out, was all a lie an apparent attempt by Kym to evade responsibility for her addiction.

    The sisters' fight comes to a head later that night at their father's house, when Kym comes home. As it turns out, Rachel still blames her for Ethan's death. This causes her to leave, after eventually admitting to being high while she was a teen and heads to their mother's house, hoping to find solace with her. However, a fight breaks out there, too. Kym confronts her mother, Abby, about it and demands to know why she left Ethan in her care while she was under the influence and not Rachel's. She soon realizes that her mother is denying any responsibility that Kym has for his death, by trying to tell her that she was good to him and that her sister is wrong in her accusation. Kym tells her mother that she was also responsible for the boy's death, and Abby slaps her in the face. Kym hits her mother back and runs off again in her father's car. While driving away, she is seen crying because, while she started to accept responsibility for what she has done, her mother has failed to do the same. This time, she intentionally crashes her father's car into a giant rock, and spends the night in the wreck.

    The next morning, the day of the wedding, Kym is awoken by police. After passing a sobriety test, she gets a ride home. She makes her way to Rachel's room, as Rachel prepares for the wedding. Seeing Kym's bruised face from a fight she had with their mother, the anger of the previous night vanishes, and Rachel tenderly bathes and dresses her sister.

    Amid a festive Indian theme, Rachel and her fiancé are wed. Kym is the maid of honor, and is overcome with emotion as the couple exchange their vows. Kym tries to enjoy herself throughout the wedding reception but continues to feel out of place and is nagged by the unresolved dispute with her mother. Ultimately, her mother leaves the party early, despite Rachel's effort to bring the two together, and the riff between Kym and her mother is left unreconciled.

    The next morning, Kym must return to rehab. As she is leaving to go to the bus station to catch her bus back to the city, Rachel runs out of the house to hug and kiss her goodbye. Kym agrees to stay in touch.

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