Although she lost out to Kate Winslet for Best Actress at the Academy Awards earlier this year, Anne Hathaway certainly puts in an Oscar-winning performance in Rachel Getting Married. Indeed, her turn as the troubled Kym is the beating heart of Jonathan Demme’s film, and the reason it is quite so memorable a movie.
Fresh out of rehab and just nine months clean, Kym is given a true baptism of fire when she returns to her family home, where her older sister Rachel (Rosemarie Dewitt) is preparing for her wedding. As she tries to cope with life in the real world, and the celebrations going on around her, it becomes clear that Kym is still far from stable. And when a past event casts its long shadow over the festivities, Kym has to make a very difficult choice.
A moving, enthralling snapshot of a family struggling with themselves as well as each other, this is a beautifully constructed piece of film-making. From the effortless script by Jenny Lumet to the ultra-real direction by Jonathan Demme – whose hand-held style makes the film far more intimate – and that outstanding performance from Hathaway, who captures both Kym’s external brashness and inward, desperate vulnerability, everything works. It also helps that Hathaway is ably supported by a host of talented actors, most notably Dewitt as her despairing sister.
With its home movie feel and naturalistic performances, Rachel Getting Married doesn’t feel like a piece of cinematic fiction. But that is what gives it its raw power; we share all of the emotions of this dysfunctional family – from the euphoria of the wedding party to the depths of grief in confronting painful memories – first-hand. It’s easy to throw around the word masterpiece, particularly when any film that deviates from Hollywood’s well-trodden path comes as so much of a relief. But, in its own small and unassuming way, Rachel Getting Married is just that. 5 stars
Solid commentaries with Jonathan Demme and his cast are the highlight, although Hathaway is sorely missed. There are also deleted scenes, a making of and featurettes. 3 stars
Stars Anne Hathaway, Roseanne Dewitt
Director Jonathan Demme
Distributor Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Format DVD & Blu-ray
Released June 29