Say 'I do' to Anne Hathaway, but not to 'Rachel Getting Married'
Who wouldn’t want to attend a wedding with the likes of Anne Hathaway, Anna Deavere Smith and the normally reclusive Debra Winger on the guest list?
Even better, you don’t need to wear a tux or a tie, and $10 will suffice as a gift.
But don’t go expecting a rip-roaring time, because seeing ``Rachel Getting Married'' is the epitome of the wedding from hell.
Why? For one thing, the bride is a self-righteous twit, the groom a nonentity and the maid of honor a recovering addict with a nasty habit of picking contrived arguments with her dysfunctional family.
It’s like ``Wedding Crashers'' on barbiturates, as caterer Jonathan Demme dampens the reception by serving nothing but unrelenting angst and cheap whine.
Yet you eat much of it up because you’re so eager to sample anything remotely spicier than the usual Hollywood pap.
Taking the cake, layer upon layer, however, is Hathaway as the recovering junkie Kym, who’s been released from rehab for the weekend to attend big sis’ nuptials on the grounds of the family’s tony Connecticut manse.
It’s exciting watching the former teen princess transform into a wrecking-ball diva whose disposition is even darker than her basic-black wardrobe. It almost seems liberating for Hathaway, who shouts it loud and long that she’s grown into an adult actress worthy of your attention.
Oscar voters are sure to take notice, too, as Hathaway conjures memories of a young Liz Taylor and an obstreperous Bette Davis in fleshing out the irascible Kym.
Unfortunately, she’s about the only thing right in a rite that goes wrong whenever Demme overindulges his worst instincts.
His most egregious offenses occur in a trio of needlessly drawn-out scenes that begin at the rehearsal dinner, where Demme redefines boring by making you sit through six or seven toasts to the bride, Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt), and groom, Sidney (Tunde Adebimpe), before getting to the only clink of the glasses that matters. And that’s Kym’s awkward, but wrenching salutations that end with her seeking forgiveness for her wicked past.
The yawns continue the next day with a dishwasher-loading race between Sidney and Rachel’s dad (Bill Irwin), a re-enactment of a real-life contest that occurred years ago between directors Bob Fosse and Sidney Lumet, father of ``Rachel’s'' writer Jenny Lumet.
It’s only surpassed in pretentiousness by the reception, which winds up seeming longer than a real one, as Demme trots out a herd of his musical pals (including Robyn Hitchcock and Sister Carol) to perform alongside the director’s guitar-picking son, Brooklyn. No nepotism there.
Together, the segments add about 30 wasted minutes to what is otherwise a marginally entertaining bit of verite compelling shot by Declan Quinn (brother of Aidan Quinn) using handheld cameras well suited to the jitteriness of a family in free fall.
Dad and his second wife (Deavere Smith) are in denial, Mom (Winger) is a cold, silent wretch, and sister, Rachel, is openly resentful toward Kym, whom she refuses to forgive for a family tragedy precipitated by her addiction to alcohol.
Demme and his actors freely exploit each quirk and dilemma for all its melodramatic worth, but all the negativity begins to grate by the third act, when you’re tempted to yell, "Get a life!''
Stop wasting mine while you’re at it. If I wanted to subject myself to so much hostility and misery, I’d just as soon visit my own family.
Contact Al Alexander at email@example.com.
RACHEL GETTING MARRIED (R for language and brief sexuality.) Cast includes Anne Hathaway, Debra Winger, Rosemarie DeWitt, Bill Irwin and Anna Deavere Smith. Directed by Jonathan Demme. At Kendall Square, Cambridge.