Sunday, November 11, 2008
Despite all the great reviews, the only reason I actually got off my ass and saw Rachel Getting Married instead of waiting for video is that my friend Joe was an extra in it, and I wanted to see if I could spot him. Spot him I did, although it was only one shot. Still, he's there! Everyone who knows Joe should go see it.
But not just for Joe, also because it really is one of the best movies to come out this year. Anne Hathaway plays a recovering drug addict who takes a break from rehab to go to her sister's wedding. Hathaway's intentions are good, but she's such a narcissist and a tornado of drama that she essentially threatens to make the whole affair about herself and not her sister. Conflict ensues.
This is all wonderfully done, engrossing, powerful, moving stuff. Hathaway, who gave one of the most embarrassing performances I have ever seen by a major star in Havoc a few years back gives one of the best performances of the year here (right under that guy who played Alan in Return to Sleepaway Camp). But even better than all that is the style the film is done in. It has a digital, handheld look that almost makes the movie look like a home video. In most of the film's best moments, it achieves a realism/naturalism that's startling... you almost want to look away because it feels like you're eavesdropping in on peoples' private conversations.
Even beyond that, the film has this free floating style that just sort of drifts from place to place, and the wedding takes on a life of it's own. The sense of place becomes so great that the actual drama of the film often takes a back seat and the main characters blend into the crowd and the movie just watches the crowd interact, listens to the music, sees everyone have a good time. They create such a rich tapestry of characters, set design, music and atmosphere that at times it stops feeling like a movie and feels like a real event that you're a part of. Director Jonathan Demme may be the first filmmaker to take Robert Altman's style and add something to it, bring it to a new plateau. It's hard to believe this film was made by the same man who did Silence of the Lambs.