Rachel Getting Married marks the coming of age of Anne Hathaway as a serious actress, in this down and dirty examination of dysfunctional family dynamics that got her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Her cursing is reminiscent of an uncensored George Carlin routine, and she appears topless in a bathtub scene (view partially obscured by arm placement--but hey, I'm just sayin'). Anyway, it's a far cry from The Princess Diaries and all that other G-rated crapola she was in early on.
Hathaway is Kym Buchman--outwardly a spoiled, acid-tongued attention whore (she's from Connecticut, though, so we'll have to give her a pass). Inwardly, she's a young woman dealing with tremendous guilt over a tragic incident she precipitated when she was sixteen. She's the black sheep of the family, on furlough from her latest stint in drug rehab to attend the wedding of her sister, Rachel. And since Kym is clearly the one we're supposed to regard as being screwed-up, it's tempting to marginalize the rest of the family's problems. But mom (Debra Winger) and Rachel (Rosemarie Dewitt) are both in need of some kind of therapy--they're both harboring long-standing, unresolved grief issues--the source of their thinly disguised contempt for Kym. Rachel-- going for her PHD to become a psychologist--ironically reveals herself to be an unrelenting, unforgiving shrew towards Kym for most of the movie. Dad(Bill Irwin) is a well-meaning but inept kind of guy--also crippled emotionally--and the only one who tries to defend Kym.
Upon arrival at the family home, Kim finds that Kieran, (Mather Zickel) a guy she just met at a 12-step meeting, is there to act as best man for the groom. Kym and Kieran immediately slip away to make it with each other, and nothing surprises us about her behavior--given her track record. The film proceeds through an overly long wedding rehearsal dinner, and all the preparations for Rachel's big moment. As the multi-racial assemblage at the dinner (Rachel's betrothed is African-American) is toasting and yukking it up--many trying a bit too hard to come off as hip and clever--Kym delivers a self-deprecating speech, an attempt at humor that falls flat with the group. Despite their pretense of cool, they're a pretty uncharitable bunch.
If you enjoy the banter of childish sibling rivalry, punctuated by lots of F-bombs, as Kym and Rachel try to heap blame and guilt upon each other for past failures and misdeeds--you'll love Rachel Getting Married. (As I've learned from personal observation, this is the way sisters often demonstrate their affection for one another.)
Kym is desperately trying to come to terms with, and to make some sense of her life--and when she draws her mother into the blame game, the cat fur really flies. As tensions mount for her, Kym gets behind the wheel and becomes Lindsay Lohan on acid.
Who's to blame for a young life gone out of control? Bill Irwin gives a stellar performance as the dad, who dotes on Kym too much. Debra Winger--already a legend--doeesn't disappoint as Abby, the estranged mom who is present for the occasion, but not really there.
Bottom line, Rachel Getting Married is about forgiveness, and how pitifully few of us in this world are willing to embrace it.
GRADE: B +