Sunday, October 12, 2008

Capsule Review: Rachel Getting Married

Movie: Rachel Getting Married
Director/Studio: Jonathan Demme / Sony Pictures Classics
10 Word Review: Bracingly real, lived-in, impeccably acted. You'll feel this in your bones.

Best Thing About It: I can't possibly pick just one thing. I haven't seen a movie this good in a good while -- it's so full of delicate character moments and the kind of realistic touches that serve as splashes of cold water for audiences used to keeping a glossy distance from their movies. The emotional high points (and low points -- and there are many of both) come later, but the single best scene is the languorous rehearsal dinner, which plays almost as if it were in real time. The whole film is like this, drawing the audience in as guests to the festivities. It's so rare to see a film take its time like this and not once get boring. And just when you've gotten yourself good and comfortable, Anne Hathaway's Kym gets up to deliver her toast and unleash her boundless self-centeredness upon everyone else. By that time, there's no getting away. You're in it. (My second favorite thing? Kym's hideous aborted streak job. So rare to see such a commitment to a disastrous hair choice.)

Worst Thing About It: It didn't bother me as much as others, but the wedding reception goes on about one or two cycles longer than it probably should have. Still, having liked so much of the relaxed pacing and allowing the audience to partake in the celebration, it feels unfair to ding it here. It's just a little ding.

Best Performance: As I said before, this is the big question. Hathaway deserves all the credit she's getting for her Kym, a monstrously selfish recovering addict whose sincere attempts to made amends might not ever be enough. Bill Irwin runs the sorrow-and-joy gamut, much like the film itself, and creates the film's warmest character. Rosemarie DeWitt peels the layers back on a wounded Other Sister who is nevertheless having the happiest weekend of her life. And while I was even more impressed with the way the film presented her character -- from a directorial and editing perspective -- Debra Winger creates a layered and real character with not a whole lot of material.

Oscar Prospects: Can't say for sure, but I'm choosing to be optimistic. I think it could definitely be a Lost in Translation-style small Best Picture nominee. This isn't just a well-made character piece. This is a movie that trades in high emotion; it's not just you'll-laugh-you'll-cry but genuine joy and genuine sorrow, reaching heights and depths very few films reach. The Oscars tend to respond well to emotion emotion. This could hit them right in the sweet spot. (The counter argument is that Oscar has never been overly fond of the emotions of women-centered pictures, so it's not this is a sure thing by any means.) Hathaway's looking very good for a Best Actress nomination, and I'd say she pulls Winger or Irwin (though, sadly, probably not both) to a nomination as well. And Jenny Lumet has a Screenplay nomination coming her way as well.

Grade: A+

No comments: