Rachel Getting Married (2008) Poster

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Performances Outpace Story
goldwriting4 October 2008
In every actor's career there comes a moment where the critics and audiences rally around jumping for joy about how they've just witnessed a breakthrough performance. As stunning as these performances are, the term "breakthrough" always felt a little out of place to me since it's only on rare occasions the actor in question is relatively new. Most times they are people who have been pounding the boards and scraping the screen for years. In those terms, the breakthrough is nothing more than a large group of people seeing that actor in a new light for the first time, mostly in something they never imagined before. Now the newly colored spotlight falls on Anne Hathaway and her powerful turn as Kym in Rachel's Getting Married.

The film is a slice of life piece detailing a small space of time, only a few days, where Kym returns home from a rehab clinic just in time for her sister Rachel's wedding. Anyone who has ever taken part in arranging a wedding, especially one taking place in the family home, knows the extreme stress already present, so toss a young, partially unstable girl into the mix and top it off with a nice coating of family denial and dark skeletons in the hallway closet, then you get the full picture of this film. Relationships are strained, ties pulled so tight and taut they could snap and still they try to work it out through screaming, laughing and crying (not necessarily in that order). After all, it's about a wedding, who's not happy at those? Before giving Anne her due credit, let me shed some light on someone most people won't know off the top of their heads. Rosemarie DeWitt plays the title role of Rachel and she does it with the utmost tenderness and subtlety. What she brings across is the inherent hatred, resentment and unending compassion sisters can feel for each other, even through the worst of storms. With a film more comfortable in the category of "ensemble piece", Rosemarie is the catalyst and pushes the energy along, changing and charging every one of her scenes. But the light shines brightest on Anne Hathaway as Kym, the ex-junkie, ex-alcoholic, ex-return rehab patient bordering on becoming an ex-family member. Audiences claim this as a breakthrough performance because they fell in love with Anne in The Princess Diaries movies, Ella Enchanted and the wonderfully wicked The Devil Wears Prada. Yet what they might not remember is she's played rougher, tougher roles in Havoc and Brokeback Mountain, showing the more mature and adult side of her skills. So I wasn't all that shocked to witness the brilliance she brought to this film, but I will celebrate it all the same. Anne jumps in and exposes a vulnerability, a cavern of pain and lost love, which drives the emotional core of the picture. From opening credits to the closing moment, she is the elephant in the room everyone must deal with and the magical point is this is the first time where the audience can begin to empathize with the elephant and not the onlookers. I can't end the acting portion of this review without bringing up Bill Irwin and Debra Winger as well. Bill plays her father and churns out a tenderness only an accomplished actor such as himself could generate. There are such small moments, such tiny fractures in his facade which allow you to peer into the heart of a man trying to choose between his greatest love and his greatest loss. On the other side, Debra Winger plays her mother, who has chosen to block out the pain in her past and skate by the rest of her life, allowing the blackness and hurt to fester and suffocate any chance at a real connection with her daughters. As you can read, the acting on display here is sensational and will undoubtedly be remembered during awards season.

As a total film, I'm not sure the story reaches the same heights. A lot of great scenes and spectacular moments are created, but the story lacks cohesion. A particular subplot about the family and its deep love for music is mentioned and referred to over and over, but never fully explained or explored, which weighs down later scenes during the wedding celebration and the overlong musical sequences. During most of the musical moments, all I really wanted was to get back to the story, back to the family and to Kym. Also, the connection between Rosemarie and her soon-to-be husband Sydney (played by Tunde Adebimpe) never quite comes across. There is a wonderful moment during their wedding vows, but it could have been helped even more if their relationship had been more centered earlier on.

On the directing front, Jonathan Demme, with the assistance of a touchingly tender script from Jenny Lumet, helps craft a reality we can all believe in, a home we can all feel we've been to before. Much of this intimacy and nuance came from the free form style of camera movement, with the actors never knowing where and when the camera was going to appear on them. Everyone was basically playing everything from the moment he yelled action, so there were emotional surprises around every pan of the camera. That technique gave the movie a certain level of improv or even documentary feeling, like the audience was the most silent of voyeurs.

Recommendation: A powerful series of moments, filled with terrific acting, that don't quite come together as a film. Certainly has great value to witness, but the theater experience might not be necessary. Also, this really is meant for those viewers not afraid to open themselves up to it.
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Kept Looking At My Watch
archiecm21 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
First of all the title is very misleading. It should be titled: "Kym at Rachel's Wedding." It is much more about Kym so why not be honest? Others have covered some complaints I also had. Did anyone say, "It's a good film from which to learn details of a dysfunctional family? If you come from one you don't need to see this movie--this is a rehash of your own hell house! In other words, what could be learned from watching all these mixed up people?"

One reviewer loved the a capella Neil Young song during the vows. It was about YOUNG'S attraction for a waitress in a diner. Couldn't the groom have found or written a song that described HIS feelings? And I really did look at my watch during the twenty minute wedding party scene of legs and butts. And I looked at the audience, the walls, back at the rear at the box where the projector was projecting.

I also lost it when Kym gives her self-centered talk during a couple toast. Anger creeps in and self-pity. But then she rights the ship and says some gracious things. I got the feeling that Kym won out at that moment leaving the group relieved. It is then that Rachel reacts the opposite way--remembering only the first half of the toast and rubbing Kym's face in her shortcomings. After that I didn't care if a meteor fell on the entire property.
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Insultingly Simpleminded, Utterly Self-Indulgent
billmarsano8 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Jonathan Demme, who apparently doesn't like working with actors, so it's said, and is much more interested in music, says his resumé, indulges himself thoroughly and to excess in this unrewarding boondoggle. And he's added something, too: a tendency to wallow in a vision of a diversity-loving tomorrow that a) helps to destroy narrative flow by distraction and b) insults diversity by using it as mere window-dressing. That is, all of these things—the black groom, his Jamaican family, the Middle Eastern (?) musicians, the Indian wedding motif—are simply and condescendingly dragged onto the screen, where they only distract and confuse because they don't actually mean anything or contribute to the narrative. And who is responsible for such nonsense as the protracted toasting scene (only Kym's toast is important; the rest are junk buddy stuff—and I've seen better "I love you, man" gushing in beer commercials) and (god help us!) the sappy '70s-style wedding vows complete with a singing groom and the subsequent dishwasher contest. I'm blaming Jenny Lumet, whose script (sribbled in a brisk severn weeks) despite all such camouflage is revealed as steadfastly and relentlessly simpleminded: No matter what Kym the Re-hab Queen does—drive off a bridge and drown her baby brother in a drug-addled haze, set the house on fire, bully her sister into betraying her best friend, lie her way through re-hab, steal from everyone, and, on the eve of her sister's wedding, engage in screaming fisticuffs with her iceberg mother and then try to kill herself with a station wagon—no matter WHAT she does there is always a forgiving sisterly hug to resolve it because, as Ms. Lumet wants us to know, Blood trumps everything else! After all, she's my sister! It is a tribute to Anne Hathaway that she can come out of this as well as she does.

Somewhere in the middle of this noisy torture I suddenly remembered "Monsoon Wedding," another movie that uses a wedding to frame a handful of story threads and the pot of family poison at its center. The difference is that in "Monsoon Wedding" all of the story lines were made to work and the music was terrific. It's three times the movie "Rachel" is.
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This Film Serves No Discernible Purpose
elena-l-adams8 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I'm currently trying to get through the reception dancing scene. I'm so very close to turning this movie off, but wanted to check the IMDb ratings before making a decision. I wish I'd done that before starting it.

This film just seems to go on forever. I thought it was going to be an interesting look into a family struggling with addiction. It appears to have nothing to say whatsoever.

Kym's story doesn't resonate with me at all. All the characters are selfish and two-dimensional, and I can't believe that people in the real world speak the way they do. Oh, and I honestly thought Sydney must have been mentally challenged for the first half of the movie. They seem like the most unlikely couple. On top of that the multicultural wedding bonanza isn't rich and wonderful, but rather trite and shallow: a pathetic attempt by a spoiled rich kid to show she's a woman of the world.

Other reviewers have complained about the camera work, and I must agree. It is actually making me nauseous. It doesn't feel "real", it feels lazy.

There isn't a single thing in this film that stands out. The story could do with some serious editing, and the directing is a scrambled mess. Maybe if it were half the length and shot without the stupid hand held camera it would have a chance.

Don't bother with this one.
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horrible cheesy arse jive as all get out movie with Benetton ad cast in a wine cooler ad texture just add shaky cam!
marymorrissey26 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
so interminable! why in the hell did we have to watch so many of the dances following the wedding. ooh now they're getting' Funkay!! now they're feelin the world beat! now they're doing the "she's too fat for me" polka! oh wait I guess there was no polka. I took a few bathroom breaks during this film cause it I couldn't bear it. there was a whole set of non characters whose names we didn't even know who were just there as some kind of wallpaper to show off how 'cool' this rich family is because oh wow they've from absolutely every color of the rainbow. so much hokey scentimentality. and the dishwasher loading scene was just so stupid and then ... oh no! someone forgot to throw away the little dead tykes designer plate and it gets stacked and in a flash the whole party atmosphere is dissipated how contrived how embarrassing how can they make movies like this. Clearly those making this film thought they were making another "the celebration" (not a favorite of mine, but this movie makes it look like a masterpiece). they weren't.
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Tries to be Cinema Verite
skipcyoung26 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
It tries to be Cinema Verite, but I never believed it. So many of the emotional reactions struck me as implausible and melodramatic: Rachel's hysterical reaction to Kym's dinner toast, Dad's nearly operatic reaction to seeing Ethan's plate, Rachel storming out of the beauty salon, Kym demanding to be maid of honor, etc. These are drama queens on steroids. It's annoying - not entertaining.

As for the wedding, it has a constant aura of putting on airs. Look how untraditional and open-minded we are! In trying too hard not to appear self-consciously eccentric, it comes off as false. I would have appreciated at least one of the characters acknowledging how different this wedding is, rather than everyone acting like it's the most normal thing in the world. The film doesn't need to apologize for it, but it shouldn't pretend either.

I will say that Debra Winger is excellent in her small role. I'm embarrassed to say, I spent the whole movie looking for her, and left thinking, "whoever played the mother did a great job".
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Calling a SPADE a SPADE
mrblimp30 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Ten minutes into watching this movie I was thinking: how much longer will this last? This film sort of reminded me of the time my neighbor brought their daughter's wedding video over and, to my wife's embarrassment, I fast forwarded thru the ceremony, in front of them. By that ten minute timeframe I was already thinking how this is like the worst possible wedding video experience you could have ever lived thru - combining the bad wedding video with the pre dinner and all the other new age wedding experiences that have developed in the years since I attended my first wedding, at the age of 6 when I was the ring bearer at my cousin's wedding. During the pre dinner scene I just wanted to hit the fast forward button and get to the drug addict sister's speech -a bit of crappy standup that quickly turned into the very flat climax of the scene - which I already figured was going to be her chance to embarrass herself and her family while ostracizing everyone else.

The hand held camera work, changing film quality and grain, and the MTV hectic editing style totally removed any possibility that I might have been immersed in the "film experience", that thing that films are designed to do. Plus the story line was way too flawed, like how is it only the ex-addict daughter realizes the mother shouldn't have left a known drug addict to babysit a child (BIG), or, how come the daughter ends up with a split lip from a smack down with her mother but the mom doesn't get even a bruise from the daughter's Mike Tyson punch to her kisser (MINOR) during a scene where the mother erupts into complete anger while telling her daughter she killed her brother. Here's my take: cold and indifferent mom who had long lost any maternal feelings to her children was already having an affair with her soon to be new husband and left drug addict daughter with son while she snuck off for a quickie, tellingly shown in her priority to leave the wedding to take care of her husband's travel arrangements in the face of her daughter's clearly expressed need for some motherly interaction.

The PC attendance to the Diversity detail was too obvious and annoyingly in your face, leaving me to contemplate what Diverse element may have been excluded, and leaving me with the impression that I had just seen a bad film about a wedding that should have made number 1 on one of those TV reality shows about the world's most horribly designed theme weddings.

As to the acting, Rachel, the soon to be husband, real dad and mom, step mom and dad, and all of the other supporting actors and actresses were all played quite well, to the point where one would expect that all of those people were probably just like that in real life. Anne Hathaway's performance was just as good though it didn't leave me believing anything other than that she was an actress playing a role, which was probably more because of the writing than anything else. I sort of had the feeling that Lumet idea for character development for this role didn't go beyond what would happen at a wedding where one of the daughters was a drug addict who had previously killed her brother.

What would have made this film good would have been if it were a documentary, a real documentary, not a film, falling incredibly short of attempting to be . . .
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So boring - like being forced to attend the wedding from hell!
flickernatic27 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I was attracted to this movie by the story - troubled addict, Kym, is plunged into a family wedding - and the prospect of an exceptional performance from Anne Hathaway. As it turned out, she was about the only thing worth seeing, and even then she seemed to be struggling under the weight of the director's (and writer's) pretensions. Apart from the shambolic camera work, presumably meant to reflect the tensions between the stereotyped 'characters', the mumbled dialogue (tho' this improved as the film progressed) and poor continuity (Kym crashes her mother's car into a large rock but later we see her stepping from the recovery truck with the car towed behind without a mark), this movie ignores the basic requirement of dramatic film-making - to tell a convincing story in a taught and engaging way. Too often we were exposed to long, dreary sequences that served no dramatic purpose. It seemed as if the makers' ran out of material with another hour of time to fill, so we got interminable shots of people dancing, excruciating wedding speeches, a bizarre dishwasher-filling contest, etc. We came close to walking out of this turkey, and if we'd had an aisle seat we would have done. So if you're bored and thinking of taking in this movie, stay home - at least you won't have paid for your dismal evening.
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It helps if you've been an addict yourself.
threedogz27 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Even though Roger Ebert recommended it, I felt nervous about seeing this film, nervous enough that I nearly walked out to go see the safer "Milk" instead. I'm glad I stayed. "Milk" has had more acclaim and will be seen by far more people. Which is a shame, because "Rachel Getting Married" is an excellent film.

Ten thoughts:

1. I'm bewildered that so many commenter's were so annoyed at the camera work and editing. Frankly, I didn't think the camera work was sloppy, shaky or spontaneous at all, but rather plot-driven, flowing and really authentic. It was done that way with clear purpose: to be your eyes and ears as if you were a guest yourself, in those rooms, at those moments, with those people, even at (especially at!) the moments that made you squirm.

Do you and I glide through rooms like Peter Pan? Heck no, we bob, weave, and turn our heads like football players constantly, whether we're aware of it or not. From the moment that Kym walks up the driveway and through the back door, we have the role of eavesdroppers, seeing and hearing things we shouldn't. A conventional style would have put safe distance between ourselves and the actors, and that's clearly not what the director wanted.

Yet as Mr. Ebert himself noted, there was one pivotal scene, featuring Debra Winger, that was shot in a solid, conventional manner. Which scene? Why that one? Why her character? What psychological things would a rock-steady camera convey there that a hand-held camera wouldn't?

2. Hi, my name is Keith and I'm a recovering addict and boy, until I saw this film, I never realized how totally full of myself I was. There, I just proved it by using the pronoun "I" four times in one sentence. Anybody nodding their head out there? (wave so I can see you) Being an addict (in or out of recovery) is like living in a hall of mirrors: you can never get away from yourself.

3. That said, there were a couple of times when Kym DID manage to join the others and DID manage to enjoy herself. And I was darned proud of her. She didn't even need a cigarette. And no, I'm not talking about the sex scene.

4. Rachel is getting married, yet she didn't even get to star in her own film! No wonder she's heading to Hawaii. You've got to admit she was right in what she said to her dad. The closing scene was so telling.

5. Why is it that the other person's family (in this case the groom's) always seems so much nicer than our own? His family was adorable! No skeletons in their closets, no sir.

6. Besides the stepmother, who was the sanest character in the entire film? The poodle! She even got a credit!

7. LOVED the music! Gosh, it was like being at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. Hopefully there's a CD soundtrack available.

8. The actress who played Rachel and the actor who played the best man look SO familiar! Yet I don't recognize their names at all. Awfully good though.

9. At the end of the film, is Kym leaving her home, or is she going there? Ergo, is rehab her real home now? Where can she go from here?

10. To all you Kyms out there, you have value, and you ARE worthy. Bless your every small step. Keep coming back, ye hear?
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Hathaway Excels in a Fierce If Overlong Drama About Coming Home and Facing Demons
EUyeshima12 October 2008
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 (Sidney's daughter), 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 full 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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Family, Rehab, Wedding and Amends
ferguson-620 October 2008
Greetings again from the darkness. After the first 5 minutes, I hated Anne Hathaway's character and I was sea-sick from director Jonathan Demme's hand-held camera work. And then two hours later I felt like I had just attended a family wedding! I got fully sucked in by Jenny Lumet's (daughter of Sidney, the master) riveting story of a family ripped apart and trying desperately to hold on to what is left.

While Hathaway's Kym is getting all the pub, I found Rosemarie DeWitt's Rachel every bit as mesmerizing, though a bit less laser-tongue equipped. Their scenes together are mind-warping ... truly like watching footage of a train wreck over and over. They love and hate each other, all while being loved and hated by everyone else in the family. So much self-destructiveness that it makes one wonder why apparent sweet guy Sidney (played oddly by Tunde Adedimpbe of TV on the Radio) wants to have anything to do with this ghastly group.

Just to make sure you are absolutely uncomfortable, Lumet tosses in the rarely seen Debra Winger as Kym and Rachel's estranged mother, who has emotionally backed out of their life completely so as not to feel the guilt she deserves for the death of the youngest sibling.

There is no way to watch this movie without numerous moments of being squeamish or uncomfortable. That is really the strength of the film ... it draws you into this world that you just don't want to be a part of.
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Promising story, ruined by an Idiotic blend of people
mikestaley781 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Sorry, don't want to offend anyone or seem un "PC" but this movie is nuts. It is a good enough premise, rich gal ends up in rehab after years of abuse and is released so she can attend her sisters wedding. This has promise, and then it is just blown to shreds by super weak story that never explains ANYTHING!!! We are lead to believe that Anne Hathaway's character "Kym" (who the hell spells it like that anyway?) is a pill abuser as she mentions it a few times, and because of this she is high and drives her little brother off a bridge and he drowns. That basically is all the back story we get on her cycle of abuse. We are never told how long this went on, how it affected everyone, or any other important background info to really make us care about Kym. Now, if that is not bad enough it only gets worse from there. The wedding takes place at Kym's fathers home in Connecticut, however the level of diversity at the wedding is ridiculous and annoying. First off, Rachel is marrying Sydney who is black. That's fine except the wedding has a Indian motif which is odd being that Sydney is black and clearly not an Indian. But that does not stop the wedding party from wearing Indian inspired clothing, what the hell is that all about? And the fact that no one touches on the fact that this is bizarre makes it even more annoying. Then we have of course a wacky Asian couple to increase diversity, along with a wandering band that is constantly playing at all times. I loved it when someone finally told them to stop, that was the best part of the movie. It was about time to shut those idiots up. Then we of course get to the wedding that continued this circus from hell. The wedding was crazy with all ethnic groups represented except hispanics which is hard to understand as hispanics are the largest minority group in the US now. Then we treated to a vast array of wild and wacky world music. Now, not to sound racist, but if someone from another country saw this they would think this is how the US is. Well, it simply isn't. Most families have some multi cultural aspects to them, but this is ridiculous. The truth is, most people in the US would agree that this family is weird and the wedding was even weirder. I could go on and on, but what is the point? This movie is too long, too boring, and a waste of time with no ending. Nuf said.
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Mind bogglingly bad...
headly6613 June 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The first impression I got when I saw this film was that I don't think I've ever met anyone in my life who actually acts like anyone in this movie. The pre-wedding party seems like they took the most interesting (or just weird) people from about eight different families and sat them all down together, none of them seems to have anything in common except that they are all talented or eccentric in some way, have no issues with just saying what they feel or crying in a room full of strangers and all have the ability to be creative and funny while making speeches. Does this sound like any family you've ever met? Where have you ever seen everyone have some talent in a group this small, the kids have a band, the one guy is a stand up, they have singers, musicians, inspirational speakers, more musicians, it's just incredible.

The wedding is like something out of a Fellini film, I just kept thinking that although there is so much going on, and everyone is supposed to be so eclectic and amazing, I don't really want to be here with them and could this movie please end soon. It's just truly amazing how two different cultures/families all just "get" each other with this perfect balance of non reality where not one person has an issue with a black/white marriage, oh but I forgot these are not real people, they are just figments of the directors imagination, aren't they? Why does everyone speak like they are in a therapy session? This is a completely unbelievable piece of fantasy and really not worth the time, I have a headache after this roller coaster ride.
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Fake documentary, real boredom
dierregi22 February 2010
The only good news about this movie is that Anne Hathaway is a professional performer. She is given a most unlovable role to play and she plays it flawlessly. Also, you don't have to worry about reading a spoiler, because nothing worth spoiling happens during the whole movie.

In a nutshell, the movie is a sort of fake documentary about a multiracial wedding organized by a severely dysfunctional family. Members of said family are narcissistic, rehab babe Kym (Hathaway); her snobbish sister Rachel; their divorced, weak father and their fed-up mother.

I will mention only a few among the movie many problems

1) the music played throughout the film is simultaneously nerve-wracking and monotonous. A special note of demerit to a strident violin that drills its way into your brain; 2) the fake documentary style is achieved by filming with a shaking camera, probably hand-held by a monkey; 3) the whole film, already pretty inconsistent is further watered down by a couple of excruciatingly tedious scenes. The first is the rehearsal dinner, during which almost every guest is given a chance of saying something banal about the happy couple. This type of thing is corny enough in real life, but when one has to sit through some 20 minutes listening to stupid stories about fictional characters, it becomes unbearable. The second is the post-wedding party. Here again we are given ample time to observe each and every character dancing, contorting and generally making a fool of themselves at the sound of ethnic world music; 4) the cast looks just out of a famous "United Colours" advertisement. It could not have bee more politically correct or multiracial than this. Actually, to the point of absurdity, because the bride wears a sari and cuts through an Indian wedding cake, despite the fact that neither she nor the groom are Indian. Why going Indian? No answer; 5) finally, even if Anne Hathaway does a good job, her character is so unlovable, self-centered and self-destructive that it does not elicit the least sympathy.

At a certain stage I sincerely hoped that Kym would manage to kill herself, to put an end to her - and the audience - misery and to provide some sort of cathartic moment to this otherwise lethargic movie. Obviously, no such luck. As mentioned above, nothing happens, dramatic or otherwise.

If you dislike real wedding for their sleazy jokes, drunken guests, never-ending speeches and headache-provoking bad music, avoid this movie at all costs. Also if you like good movies
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Maybe you had to have been there
johnbozeman9 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Ceremonies are ceremonies. Their forms exist so people can repeat conventions and draw reassurance from joining in the collective experience. Some slight deviations are OK particularly in marriages, but also particularly in marriages, sunshine must--MUST--prevail. It's no wonder that in strangers' weddings only the accidents are interesting. And in "Rachael Getting Married," there just aren't enough "accidents."

The film started by jumping right into midstream, with all the throwaway lines and quaky camera of a home movie. If people were saying anything important, I didn't know. I needed subtitles.

The actresses--especially Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt, and Debra Winger--were gorgeous. I could have looked at them forever. But despite their suburban Sturm und Drang, I could not see beneath their surfaces. What made them the way they were? Only Bill Irwin, the father, showed himself in trying to hold his family together, and I felt great sympathy. But never mind. The film ignored him.

The best scene turned out to be his and the groom's loading and unloading the dishwasher--no, I'm not kidding--which built with some genuine spirit before it luffed away into stone, cold "significance."

The rehearsal dinner and the wedding itself were too real, that is, too long, too personal, and too embarrassing. "Love"? You want yet another toast about "love"? Gag me with a spoon.

More isn't better. The sheer number of disjointed moving parts throughout the movie diminished each one. How many bands were there anyway? Where did the dab of Indian influence come from? Brazilian? Carribbean? Jazz? Was the lame altar song from the cypher of a groom supposed to hint the music was on his side? Then why wasn't the bride's family more amazed?

Actually, hold that thought. Don't know. Don't care. Don't go.
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I need a thesaurus to come up with enough adjectives to describe how bad this movie was
johnnyd06030625 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I'm in the navy and I am currently suffering from PTSD....not because I have seen battle, but because I made the mistake of watching this " movie " about 4 months ago....I still wake up in a cold sweat thinking about it...Horrible, terrible, horrendous, worst movie EVER!!! See where Im going with this??? Maybe its just me, but whenever the band started playing, which was pretty much the whole movie, I was wishing for a truck, train, plane, anything, to somehow land on them and end this debacle...now that would have been a great climax, climax, which was never reached in this movie....no not even the notorious " dish washing scene " could save this movie. that last part was sarcasm....the dish washing scene was the worst of all the pointless scenes in this movie.....if you can even make it to that scene, be ready to be left with a feeling of anger for wasting 2 hours of your life.
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I really wanted to like it, but it was AWFUL!
pnwgirl23 May 2009
This utterly uninspiring movie left me inspired to do one thing: write my first review on IMDb.

I was pretty excited by the premise of the movie, but by 10 minutes in, I realized that it wasn't going to take me anywhere but to the medicine cabinet for some Excedrin.

It's hard to know where to start in describing this cinematic train wreck. First, there was the camera work. Frenetic, bobbing, jerking back and forth, it gave the impression of two college students filming a documentary, and a bad one at that.

Then there was the dialog. In many places it just went on too long. Pointless long scenes that didn't advance the story or even appear to have meaning.

I'm astounded and I'm not quite sure how they did this, but despite the seemingly compelling subject matter, I managed to get through the film without connecting to even one of the characters. You are just never drawn into the story, the characters, or anything else. It's like this movie fails to get you to care.

Basically, I felt like I was watching a bad amateur documentary. It meandered, stalled in places, failed to connect, and had no discernible message. Just "splat". "Here's our story, make something of it." Or not.

I didn't.
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An old curmudgeon's view
alweiss25 October 2008
Maybe this is a generational thing but I wholeheartedly agree with those who have said, "Excellent film sabotaged by execrable camera work," "Teenagers Making Video," and "Rachel Gets Married, Audience Gets Headache." When I was an engineer and again as a programmer, we had a saying, "Just because you can do something doesn't mean you have to do it." Last week I saw W. and had the same comment about it. The hand held, shaky, up your actor's nose close-ups all distract from what could be an interesting story. How I miss the carefully plotted camera work of people like Gregg Toland (The Grapes of Wrath and Citizen Kane), James Wong Howe (too many to mention), and Freddie Young (Lawrence of Arabia). As Dennis Miller says, "of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong."

I also feel that many of the scenes, particularly the wedding party, went on way, way too long. If I had wanted to watch my friend's long, boring, amateur wedding video, I could have stayed home and saved the price of admission.
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Excellent Study of Family Dysfunction (But Please Stop Using Hand-held Cameras!)
evanston_dad29 October 2008
The kind of movie that gives films about family dysfunction a good name.

Anne Hathaway plays Kym, troubled younger sister to Rachel, who's (as the title suggests) getting married. Kym gets a leave of absence from rehab in order to attend Rachel's nuptials. Once she's back home, old sores open up, sisterly resentment boils over, and the accusations and tears fly, all while ineffectual dad (Bill Irwin) tries to play referee and emotionally distant mom (Debra Winger) remains auspiciously absent.

If this sounds like a slog to sit through, don't be scared off. Unlike the recent and absolutely atrocious "Margot at the Wedding," which this film reminded me of, "Rachel Getting Married" is full of flawed but deeply sympathetic characters who I for one cared tremendously about. Anne Hathaway gives the kind of performance that will convince people she's more than just a pretty face, while she's met every step of the way by the less well known Rosemarie Dewitt, who plays Rachel. In a movie like this, it's crucial that the audience understands the back story that led the characters to their current dynamic, and it's a minor miracle that "Rachel Getting Married" does that without the use of flashbacks, voice over or even extensive scenes of plot exposition. Much of the story is told through nuance, in slight expressions or gestures, and the cast is uniformly fierce, every single member creating complex, flesh-and-blood people that aren't easy to instantly categorize. The film is an acting tour de force in every sense of the word.

Hathaway and Dewitt get the most opportunities to shine, but Irwin and Winger do wonders in their smaller roles as the parents. Winger, in particular, is devastating.

My only complaint is a big one -- an edict must be passed in Hollywood banning directors from filming entire movies with hand-held cameras. The trend is cliché and over. No, it does not add "realism" to a film. It merely distracts from all of the other elements that are good enough to stand on their own without the gimmickry. The cinematography was much less obtrusive in this film than in some others I can name, but it still served as a liability, not an asset.

Grade: A
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awful! two hours of pure bickering torture - worst movie I've seen this year
sinnerofcinema3 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
You should always listen to your gut instinct. My friend wanted to see this movie badly. She sold me on it as being disturbing, since she knows I like thought provoking, high end, original, off the wall controversial movies. I had previously read reviews, mind you I NEVER pay attention to opinions from film critics. I read the review to learn more about the story and it helps me decide if its my cup of tea. I was hesitant as I was buying the ticket. so I opened entertainment weekly and read a review and it swayed me to give it a change (I will never let than happen again) the guy from ew must have seen a different film. He gave the film and A. I could only sit through this for the first hour. If you enjoy watching two female talking heads bickering for two hours straight in one tepid location and event (the wedding of course), this movie may be for you. But if you are looking for more than cat fighting between two siblings about a lot of nothing then you should save your money. As I watched the bickering, I kept thinking I should have used my hard earned money to buy kitty litter. I don't find any entertainment value in watching two women catfight for more than an hour. Prior to walking out of the theatre, (I could not take more than the first hour of that back and forth bickering) I saw other males leaving thinking maybe the went on bathroom brakes... they never returned. I followed.
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Who knew family dysfunction could be so boring?
LitlGin5 March 2010
In theory, this should be a great movie - interesting enough plot, good cast with good performances. A number of things drive this movie over a bridge to drown. To start, this movie consists of about 30 minutes of actual story, and 80 minutes of disjointed musical scenes and irrelevant cutaways. These scenes immediately kill any type of flow or sense of building climax. Anne Hathaway's character is embarrassingly painful to watch; are we really expected to sympathize with someone so self absorbed? Absolutely none of the character's conflicts (internal or external) are explored to any depth. This is a true shame as this is where the focus should have been, and not on the annoyingly long rehearsal dinner performances/speeches, or the never ending wedding songs and dances which have no segue in or out. Then we also have the horrible camera work. As the father tells his new son-in-law's brother, "put the camera down already!" Unnecessary 'artful' touches don't hide the fact that you haven't conquered basic story telling.
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datsab9 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Another reviewer mentioned that he walked out after the dishwasher scene.That was the exact same moment I shut the movie off and came to see what others were thinking of this total waste of film.Terrible movie. And I actually have good taste in movies.I like films that you have to use your head for.But this film doesn't qualify.It pretends to be that kind of film,but it just doesn't go anywhere.I mean how entertaining is it to watch two people loading a dishwasher.Come on!Crap!Maybe something happens later.But I just could not watch another moment.If that is what a movie does,then said film is a failure,in my opinion.If I could give it Zero,I would.
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A Wedding and Debra Winger
littlemartinarocena4 October 2008
Jonathan Demme back in great form. That's the good news. I've read somewhere he didn't want to work with actors anymore. He wanted to stick to documentaries where freedom (as a filmmaker) is king. I'm glad he changed his mind. He is a gift to actors and here they are subjected to a documentary style that for the first few minutes made me fear the worst but that at the end of the day it works brilliantly. Jenny Lumet's terrific scrip feels amazingly personal (wasn't her father, Sidney Lumet, once Lena Horne's son in law?)The characters are too vivid to be the figment of someone's imagination or is Demnme's documentary style that makes it appear that way?. I don't know and quite frankly I don't care. I went where the characters took me, Anne Hathaway and Rosemary DeWitt are terrific but it is Debra Winger's distant mother that will make me want to see this film again. I don't know how explain it. She's on the screen for a few minutes but her presence is extraordinary. Even when she's part of the crowd you can't take your eyes off her. Go see it/her
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Boring, Unpleasant, Empty, Pointless and Overrated Film with Unlikable Characters
claudio_carvalho2 April 2010
In Connecticut, after years of rehab, the drug addicted Kym (Anne Hathaway) is released to go to the wedding of her sister Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt). Kym killed her young brother in a car accident while driving drugged, and now she faces the lack of trust of her father and friends. Along a couple with days with her dysfunctional family, Kym has a resented treatment from her sister and the grief of her father.

"Rachel Getting Married" is a boring, unpleasant, empty, pointless and overrated film with unlikable characters. Anne Hathaway, Debra Winger, Jonathan Demme and the hype and the fake marketing increased my disappointment with awful flick. The DVD released in Brazil by Sony distributor has on the front cover the statement: "The Best Film of the Year", from a certain David Edelstein from New York Magazine that was probably being ironic or has watched this only movie in 2008. The character of Anne Hathaway having free intercourse with the guy from Hawaii is completely out of the context of the story. The boring music score is a dreadful mess. My vote is two.

Title (Brazil): "O Casamento de Rachel" ("The Wedding of Rachel")
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what the f-k was this?
karlericsson27 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I bought this because I saw that it was done by the director that did Silence of the Lambs.

The actor are all terrific and so on. But where is the point with the movie. It seems that this director is something like a craftsman, like many of the actors, but that he and them don't give a damn about what they are doing as long as they are getting paid for it.

Well, I can assure you that I will never again buy a film because this director directed - not even if he does a thousand Silence of the Lambs after this - at least not before having seen the movie.

The film is about an interracial marriage but that is not the controversy. Instead it is about a drug addict that was let alone with a child and did not (could not) take care of it and drove a car and the child died. She blames herself but it is really the mother that should be blamed that left her alone with the child. Or is it not? The film delivers no answers and no sure questions either. Personally, I found the whole crowd, black as well as white, phony to the bone and was disgusted. It was like the vanity of slaves believing themselves to be something else than slaves. Was that the point? If it was, then it was not stressed in any way.

No, this is a "professional" film by a "professional", who, himself, has nothing to say and believes in nothing and when he happens to be handed a good script, like Silence... then he delivers a professional job but he otherwise seems to be totally unable to tell s-t from shoe-polish.
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