Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Movie Meme, Day 11: A Movie That Disappointed

One good thing about the meme is how cathartic it is. I’ve been wanting to write about some films for some time, but I’m not sure how to get the ball rolling. Biting the bullet; for today: Rachel Getting Married. I never reviewed Rachel Getting Married, since I wasn’t blogging around the time of its release. It’s often touted as one of the strongest independent flicks of 2008 and Anne Hathaway’s performance continues to be hailed as a tour-de-force. I saw it in the wake of the buzz it was getting. While recapping 2008 I mentioned that I was no fan of the film (my initial grade was a C+) and last week when I caught it on I decided to watch (E/N: this post was written weeks ago). I hadn’t seen it since 2008 and I wanted to see how it aged.
I know I praised Rosemarie DeWitt in my Encore Awards, but I was unprepared for how excellent she was here. I know that lovers of the film applaud her performance but there’s a reason that the film is called Rachel Getting Married and it’s just not because of her wedding. I’ve never liked Anne Hathaway, from her days of being a Disney princess to her newfound status as a rising star I still don’t like her. If pushed I’d identify her performance in The Devil Wears Prada as my favourite, and that doesn’t say much when I think she’s the weakest of the film’s four stars (Blunt, Streep, Tucci in that order). Hathaway grates on me so much I’m unsure if her acting is the issue or her natural personality and my unprofessionalism. Kym, the recovering addict, is the perfect type of role for an actress trying to break out of a rut but Demme’s Rachel Getting Married biggest problem is that it already thinks it doing something seismic. I recall someone saying that if some new director had helmed this, whose name was not Demme, the response would have been muted. I believe that. The film is not a bad one by any stretch of the imagination, but despite all the rote examples of honesty it’s not as sincere as it’s pretending which is the feeling I get from Hathaway. Yes, Kym is just a large mix of neuroses and Hathaway is obviously trying hard, but she strikes me as a young actress trying to act than a real character which is the opposite feeling I get from DeWitt. It’s no surprise, then, that Hathaway does best when paired with DeWitt. It’s almost as if the older sister is willing the younger one to step up to the plate, and it’s the dynamic of the film that rings out as most sincere.
Bill Irwin, I admit, puts up a valiant effort and his response to a certain dishwasher scene is well played. But I can’t take it at face value because it seems oddly truncated, not as truncated as Debra Winger who does well with a nothing role, but truncated nonetheless. I can’t be expected to value these characters because there’s little there that urges me to get invested in them. Yet, I admire Rachel Getting Married for its good intentions. Demme falters, oh yes I believe he does, but his attempt to craft an adult drama that’s not overly adult or that has too much “drama” is impressive. I laud its ability to have an interracial marriage without turning it into something of huge proportions. I laud the fact that it doesn’t try to play for sympathy too much, though it does aim for empathy that I can’t always give. Despite its best intentions Rachel Getting Married does little to move. I’ll show up for the bride, but I’m neither here nor there on the rest of the bridal party. (Upgraded to a B-).
What do you think of Rachel Getting Married?
All for the MEME.           


MrJeffery said...

Interesting how your views changed with this. I really love this movie (the acting I think is phenomenal). I guess if you are not a fan of Hathaway, it's a difficult picture to get into. She surprised me here however.

Nicholas Prigge said...

Ah, man, I loved this movie. I didn't like Hathaway either. I didn't like her at all. But this movie changed my opinion. I've met people like her, that talk so fast they can't keep up with themselves and use cigarettes like life preservers. But, yeah, you have to go with her to go with the film. To each his own.

Jose said...

How can someone not like Anne Hathaway?
That's like disliking puppies, rainbows, sunshine and the woman who will win an Oscar for playing Judy Garland...
Anyway, I don't think she gives the best performance in the film either. I wouldn't even have included her as a Best Actress nominee if I'd made a list.
This movie as you say belongs to Rosemarie (and Irwin to a lesser extent)I love Pe, but she would've given her a run for her money in the Supporting Actress race that year.

TomS said...

Hathaway was brilliant...
But the movie was ruined with the worst photography I have ever seen in a theatrical film...and felt itself so clever that it kept drawing attention to itself. (Come on, this is a modest little movie, not postmodernism...!)
It made it nearly impossible to fully engage with these characters or their story.
I rather enjoyed the musical interludes although most of my peers felt they went on too long.
Debra Winger was a welcome surprise.

rtm said...

Coincidentally, a few people mention this movie in the comment section regarding young actress list. Seems like they were impressed with Anne in this movie. I haven't seen it, but from what I've seen her in, she hasn't impressed me enough to make the top 5.

Alex in Movieland said...

I like it, somewhere around an 8 I guess. but it definitely has some great element (to me: the acting and the camera work).

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

mrjeffery i remember many people touting that "toast" she gives and when it came it felt so calculated i just couldn't take it at face value.

nicholas it wasn't so much me not thinking there are people like that, i just didn't feel that anne was doing a good job of pretending to be like that in the first place.

jose oh my god, forbid. i really hope she DOESN'T do that movie...i'd even prefer katie holmes (yes, that was not a typo) if they want to go with a movie star...and why not just cast tammy blanchard and end the whole drama.

tom oh yes. unbearably smug at times.

rtm this is supposed to be here crowning achievement. i don't know, you'll have to see it for yourself i suppose.

alex in the end i think it's fair...fairly good at times even, but it just comes off as too forced at times.