Plot: What’s it about?
Jonathan Demme doesn’t have a lot to prove when it comes to filmmaking. He took home the Best Director and Best Picture Oscar in 1991’s “The Silence of the Lambs” and 1993’s “Philadelphia” was also nominated for Best Picture. Most directors don’t have those kind of accolades and Demme seems that he hasn’t lost his touch when it comes to directing movies. With last year’s “Rachel Getting Married”, the film focuses on the family, well the “dysfunctional family” to be more exact. It garnered star Anne Hathaway her first Best Actress nomination (I’m sure we’ll see more from her) though she did end up losing to Kate Winslet in “The Reader.” To be quite honest, I had heard of the movie but had no idea Demme was behind the camera but when the opening credits rolled and I saw “Directed by Jonathan Demme” my eyes lit up and I was anxious as to what I was about to see. The film is about as close to a documentary both in substance in style as you can get without it actually being a documentary. That said, let’s delve into “Rachel Getting Married”…
Kym (Anne Hathaway) is a recovering addict. We don’t know exactly which drugs it is that she did, but we can assume that it’s been a lot. She’s getting out of a rehab clinic just in time to see her sister, Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt) get married ? hence the title of the movie. We learn that Kym was responsible for killing her younger brother a few years before, though it was by accident. The family has tried to put it behind them, but it’s written in the eyes of everyone around Kym that she was the one responsible. It’s a fine line between sympathy and anger that we feel for Kym as she’s determined to have her sister’s wedding be more about her than Rachel. She’s self-indulgent, aloof and somewhat of a spoiled brat. When push comes to shove, she runs and the backdrop of the wedding serves as a somewhat ironic facade to the real problems going on in Kym’s life.
This isn’t the kind of movie that has a neat little ending and says that everything will be alright. Yes, the movie does have an ending but it’s in the non-traditional sense. I’m reminded of a review by Roger Ebert when he took a look at the legendary “McCabe and Mrs. Miller” in that he said “…uses a tactfully unobtrusive camera, a distinctive conversational style of dialog and the fluid movements of his actors to give us people who are characters from the moment we see them; we have the sense that when they leave camera range they’re still thinking, humming, scratching, chewing and nodding to each other in the street.” And that’s how I felt with this movie, like the camera was always there, but we just get a glimpse as to what the characters were saying. “Rachel Getting Married” isn’t a movie that’ll make you feel good about yourself, but it has plenty of great performances and it’s not to be missed.
Video: How does it look?
Shot in HD, “Rachel Getting Married” has a very unique visual look to it. The 1.85:1 AVC HD transfer certainly looks razor sharp at some points in the film and has a blurry, almost documentary look and feel to it in others. While I feel the film is less about how it looks, the handheld camerawork gives it a “home video” feel. I’m sure this was the intention as the event of a marriage certainly caters to that of a video. Colors are very de-saturated, Kym’s skin looks nearly white and vacant in every shot. There aren’t a lot of bright colors in the palette here and I think it was a good choice. This movie would have a different look and feel if there were more color. On the whole, it’s a good-looking transfer, though it wasn’t supposed to be the stylized and polished studio film that we’re so accustomed to seeing.
Audio: How does it sound?
On the box it reads “Dolby TrueHD” but in all reality, “Rachel Getting Married” is pretty much a mono soundtrack. Almost the entire movie is dialogue-driven with only a tiny bit of help from the surrounds. Again, this fits the mold of what the movie was trying to accomplish and I highly doubt that too many people will be upset when they find out this doesn’t sound like “Wanted”. That said, vocals are very strong and clear though we do get some of the overlapping dialogue. A good effort, though not something to show off your home theater system with for sure.
Supplements: What are the extras?
In terms of supplements, we get just enough to make your purchase worth the money. There are two commentaries, the first with some crew members that tell of the shoot, working with Demme (though he and Anne Hathaway are conspicuously absent from both tracks) and the like. The second is with actress Rosemarie DeWitt who plays Rachel in the film. It’s a good track, but a bit sparse in points. I wonder why they just didn’t edit her comments into the other track? A trio of featurettes are included; the first is “The Wedding Band” which shows us the director’s approach to the sound used in the film. The band did have a rather unique way of using the sound and this explores that. We’ve got the obligatory “Making of…” featurette as well. Most engaging is the hour-long Q and A session with the cast and crew. We get a lot of information about the movie here, and I preferred it to the commentary track personally. Then again, it’s easier to connect with the actors when you can see them talking. There are nine deleted scenes and the original trailer in HD.