Published Oct 02, 2008Jonathan Demme has built the latter half of his career by mixing it up with award-winning dramas, music-related projects and documentaries expressing both personal and political visions. There are certainly works of greatness in his résumé (The Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia, Something Wild) but consistent he is not.
His first non-documentary since 2004s The Manchurian Candidate finds Demme eschewing that films big budget size for the very intimate confines of Rachel Getting Married and in turn, finding the form that established him in the 80s.
Anne Hathaway stars as Kym, a recovering junkie who leaves rehab one weekend to attend her sister Rachels (Rosemarie DeWitt) wedding. With her, Kym brings heavy personal baggage, disrupting the preparations with erratic behaviour and unbridled self-absorption, and digging up past tragedies that bring repeated boiling points and affecting moments of compassion out of her family.
Along with screenwriter Jenny Lumet (Sidneys daughter), Demme presents a familiar yet tense occasion teeming with genuine emotion, wit and candid circumstances. Shot with handheld cameras, Demme utilizes his inner documentarian to give the film its consciousness and a sense that were seeing raw footage, which gives his ensemble cast more room to shine.
Hathaway has built a fine career for herself but her brutally honest, freeform expressions are destined to boost her demand and undoubtedly earn her some hardware. DeWitt is remarkable as well, matching Kyms unpredictable explosions with her own emotional vigour, while comedian Bill Irwin nearly steals the show from his two daughters, turning in a performance that is both heart-wrenching and merry.
As compelling as Demmes actors are, its the connection between the movies spontaneity and musicality that make Rachel more than just an acting clinic. The inclusion of TV On the Radios Tunde Adebimpe as groom Sidney, as well as Robyn Hitchcock and Fab 5 Freddy, in the midst of a supporting cast of on-screen musicians, keeps the flourishing score alive and involved throughout.
Rachel Getting Married is a launching pad for many of its participants but perhaps most of all for Demme, who begins the next phase of his career with arguably his best film to date. (Sony)