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March 24, 2009

DVD of the Week – Review of Rachel Getting Married (2008)

by RISHI AGRAWAL

When I put Rachel Getting Married on my Top Ten list for last year, I remarked that it was like watching someone’s wedding video. That is a testament to the realism of this film. With its handheld camera work and intimate portrayals of the characters, we really feel like we’re observing the actual preparations for a wedding.

Anne Hathaway plays Kym, a recovering drug addict who gets released just in time to attend the wedding of her sister Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt). The entire cast is phenomenal but the most notable is Bill Irwin, who plays Kym and Rachel’s father, Paul. Jonathan Demme directs in what is his best film since Silence of the Lambs.

The relations between the characters are uncomfortable. Kym constantly attempts to be the center of attention and feels that her release from rehab is not given the proper attention it deserves due to the wedding. She guilts her sister into making her the Maid of Honor and generally tries to garner sympathy from everyone involved. Rachel, on the other hand, is tired of playing the understanding sister and wants the wedding to be her moment. Paul tries to mediate, but walks a thin line as he does not fully trust Kym with responsibility, but still wants to make her feel welcome.

What makes the film work is that it is not just a film about family dysfunction. During the rehearsal dinner, Kym makes a subversive toast that is more about herself than the bride. However, the moment would not work if it wasn’t preceded by a series of toasts from others about the happy couple. The triumph of the film is that it feels almost completely unscripted. The film is charming because it captures all the moments of the wedding, not just the dramatic and emotional ones. In fact, one of the most memorable scenes is one where Paul has a competition with his future son-in-law to see who can load the most dishes in the dishwasher.

The DVD is available in both widescreen and Blu-ray formats. There is a cast and crew Q&A Panel from a public event, deleted scenes, and a behind the scenes featurette. There are two commentary tracks, one with Rosemarie DeWitt and the other with Producer Neda Armian, Screenwriter Jenny Lumet and Editor Tim Squyres. I am not sure why there is no commentary with Demme and Hathaway, but perhaps a fully loaded DVD is down the road.

New releases this week: Bolt, Playing with Lior, Quantum of Solace, Yella


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