Da Couch Tomato

An attempt at a new layout, with horrible glitches, and very minimal knowledge of HTML.

Rachel Getting Married

Bravo to Jonathan Demme. He didn't get a Best Director Oscar for nothing.

This film should be mandatory viewing for directing classes in film school. It is a great directorial work, which I shall explain in cinematic jargon.

First, the story. Great screenwriting by Jenny Lumet, but unfortunately, it was snubbed at the 2009 Academy Awards. Well, it did have a few weak points, but it was generally good.

Before we proceed, let me clarify first that Anne Hathaway is not Rachel. Rachel is her older sister, played by Rosemarie DeWitt (who looks like a prettier Franka Potente with a gentler face).

Okay, back to the story. This is about family life, sisterhood, inter-racial marriage, drug addiction, and family deaths. These are very personal subjects, and to tell a story like this effectively, you have to draw in your audience, and make them part of the family. Only then will the drama work.

That said, director Jonathan Demme could not have done a better treatment of the subject. All aspects of the cinematography worked well, from the natural lighting, to the hand-held camera movements, to the long takes, all giving the feel of a documentary, or a reality show. Even the editing contributed to the overall feel of a family gathering shot using a handycam. You can't get any more personal than a handycam.

The music too played a big part in the storytelling, but not as a background score. Demme's treatment was so effective that you didn't need a musical score. It could actually stand alone using only ambient sound. But Demme maximized the element of music as part of the wedding celebration, since this was after all an inter-racial marriage. We are actually treated to all-original music, celebrating a cross-cultural union between musical clans.

Now we go to the acting. Anne Hathaway=win. To be able to sustain her character while shooting documentary-style requires a lot of skill. In the words of Breckin Meyer from the movie Kate and Leopold: "God, you are so method!" She totally deserved that Oscar nomination. This girl has a great future ahead of her. Bill Irwin, who played Anne Hathaway's father, was so brilliant that he really seemed like he wasn't acting at all. (I'd also like to mention that Debra Winger is still hot.) And of course, the rest of the cast was so equally realistic that it wouldn't surprise you if Jonathan Demme did actually shoot real, unsuspecting non-actors using a handycam.

Some viewers may try and look for any semblance of structure, or a narrative arc, to the story. But let me tell you right now that you won't find any. This story tells more like a tale told between family members, where flashbacks or back stories do not really matter. This is, again, the story of Rachel getting married, told from the point of view of not just an ordinary wedding guest, but someone really close to the bride.

*some info from IMDb
pic from pastemagazine.com

Rachel Getting Married. USA. 2008.

Rating: Eight and a half out of ten.


Premium Blogspot Templates
Copyright © 2012 Da Couch Tomato