Saturday, January 31, 2009

Rachel Getting Married

I thought this one was on DVD but when my friend wanted to see a film today, I was surprised to see this one was still playing in theaters, nonetheless, i saw it with high hopes but was let down in the end.

Rachel Getting Married is a mellow character drama that's a cross between "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolff" and those character dramedies, Lost in Translation, Sideways, Savages and Little Miss Sunshine, that have been popping up at the Oscars the last few years. Three of those four got nominated for a best picture Oscar. Perhaps, Johnothan Demme was trying to be equally as ambitious?

Rachel Getting Married is about a girl, Kim, who returns from rehab to attend her sister's wedding and reunites with her dysfunctional family. I only use the word dysfunctional because i don't even know if the english language has any words that are stronger. Kim's older sister, Rachel has a PhD in psychology so she, Rachel, is constantly analyzing her younger sister's failures and is incredibly cold despite Kim's valiant efforts. The film is constantly switching its protagonist and its villain. At times, Kim is doing something reprehensible only to turn it around on us and make the audience view her as a victim, and the audience loathes Rachel instead. The film plays out over the course of one weekend, and we are treated to the somber and bittersweet moments of two people uniting in holy matrimony with a series of endless arguments and shame cycles between a family.

Audiences might be under the impression that Rachel Getting Married is a comedy because it's shot in the style of an indie film with quirky music, so we're cued to expect soemthing akin to Juno or The Savages. Looking at the film through that lens will easily lead to disappointment. The tone of the film, hand-held camera and akward lighting, is designed to be voyeuristic, in my opinion. We're peering through intimate moments between a family that we're not supposed to be seeing. The movie is definitely interesting and holds your attention in that way.

The problem with the movie is that it ultimately goes nowhere and ends up in a deeply unsatisfying loop. The characters have some intimate moments with each other. At one point, Kim gets hurt and Rachel comforts her and shows her humanity for a moment. This build-up is easily forgotten, however, among all the arguments that don't seem to combine together into as much of a story arc as I would have hoped.

One could argue that, it's lifelike, and the film very much feels relatable in that sense, but I think that this particular narrative deserved an ending. If we're going to watch two hours of a family arguing, I'd like to see it lead somewhere. Also, they should have edited more out.

Recommended films from this article:
-Who's Afriad of Virginia Wolff-A drama with Elizabeth Taylor, George Segal, Sandy Dennis, and Richard Burton that puts the "fun" in dysfunction.

The oscar-winning dramedies. All 4 of these films won Oscar for best screenplay:
Little Miss Sunshine
Lost in Translation

Not recommended (it moves a little too slowly) but if you want you can watch it anyway:
The Savages

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