MOVIE: Rachel Getting Married (2008)

In my recent review of the new George Romero zombie movie, Survival of the Dead, I mentioned how tired I was getting of the whole “faux documentary” technique being (egregiously) employed to often these days in film.

The very next day, I finally got around to seeing this movie, which has been recommended to me often over the last year, and totally ate my words.

This wonderful film is shot kind of like a homemade wedding movie, but centers on the bride’s sister Kym (Anne Hathaway) more than the happy couple.  As the story opens, Kym has just gotten out of rehab for the umpteenth time (spurred originally to get help by a horrific accident in her youth that resulted in the death of her baby brother).  This round, though, she’s taken it far more seriously, spending several months in a center instead of the standard “28 days.”

But her reintegration into her family is a rocky one, not only for the usual reasons, but because she comes home only a few days before her sister Rachel is getting married.  The house is in chaos, everyone overwhelmed and stressed, emotions naturally high (or perhaps unnaturally high — weddings are nuts).

This film does an incredible job of really showing us what it’s like for someone newly out of rehab — the constant struggle, less “one day at a time” than one minute, the constant temptations, the guilt, the isolation, the hope.  It takes us intimately inside the world of 12-step meetings, smothering parental concern, and the complexities of familial love vs. resentment — more powerfully and more honestly than I’ve ever seen in a fictitious film about drug addiction.

The acting is fantastic (especially Hathaway and Bill Irwin, though I may have been slightly biased in his favor, so in love was I years ago with his character, “The Flying Man,” on Northern Exposure) and the documentary/wedding home movie feel was perfectly executed.  There’s no manipulation of the audience’s feelings, no zealous message about the dangers of drug abuse.  Just a purely, intensely emotional portrait of a family that felt as authentic as my own.

Highly, highly recommended!

[Netflix it (incl. Watch Now) | Buy it]

Genre:  Drama
Cast:  Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt, Debra Winger, Mather Zickel, Bill Irwin


17 Responses to “MOVIE: Rachel Getting Married (2008)”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Have you seen the Story of the Weeping Camel? It is a quasi-documentary (don’t know if it’s what you’re calling a faux-documentary). The genre really fascinates me.

  2. raisarobin Says:

    P.S. that was me 🙂

  3. megwood Says:

    I haven’t seen that — will definitely look for it! By “faux documentary,” I’m talking about stuff like “Blair Witch Project.” “Documentary” is probably the wrong word, I guess. What do they call it — “shaky-cam” movies? I know not the lingo.

  4. marni Says:

    Whoa, weird. When did you watch this? I checked it out from the library and watched it last Saturday afternoon. The sisters’ relationship was so spot on, I thought. And how Anne Hathaway just kept wanting everyone to listen to her talk about herself. And, yes, the horrific accident and incredible scene where she asks Debra Winger why she let her take her little brother anywhere!?!? Yes, WHY!?!?! I really liked it too.

  5. Hollie Says:

    I LOVED this movie too! We need to start a movie-watching club as well as a book club. What Marni said about that scene with Debra Winger, too, wow, I was just engrossed.

    I also have to say that I loved what you said about Bill Irwin, because oh magawd, I had the biggest crush on him too. I still do.

  6. Says:

    That’s Great. Nice Post….

  7. Florence Says:

    I just saw this last week on Netflix -was available to watch instantly. Thought this was terriffic-extremely well done. I too thought Bill Irwin was good-very low key in this movie-the scene with the dishwasher… left me in tears.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    I’ve been wanting to see this but am leery of depressing movies, and it seems like it would be crushingly depressing.

    And on a more or less completely unrelated note, when I saw “oh magawd” in Hollie’s note I read it as “oh megawad” and thought that was an interesting but possibly not flattering to the uninitiated nickname for Meg Wood. And now I’m afraid you’re going to forever be Megawad in my head, but I promise the name will be rattling around up there with affection.

  9. Jo Says:

    And, that was me. Although I should probably run the with chance to remain anonymous.

  10. megwood Says:

    I’ve been called many things, but “Megawad” is new. I like it! It can stay.

    It’s not that depressing, really. Ends with hope. Hope is good.

  11. zini Says:

    I, too, loved this flick. I loved the quirkiness of the family and friends, the stuff you have to–and do–accept and love in them despite the difficulty. This all felt very real to me. And Marni, YES, that scene where she confronts her mother. That was killer. Who’s the adult here after all?

    Meg, I saw in your write up you were looking to see what BF Lee (Yummy) Pace is up to and it made me wonder, have you seen The Fall? Another wonderful film, feast for the eyes, good weird story, incredible little girl actress and LEE. I’m afraid I can’t stomach seeing him in Marmaduke…it hurts too much.

  12. megwood Says:

    YES! “The Fall” was one of my favorite films from last year — I adored every single moment of it. Great movie! So, so great!

  13. zini Says:

    Did you do a review of The Fall and I missed it? Would love to read it, any way to search? Sorry, off topic of Rachel! threadnapper! threadnapper!

  14. megwood Says:

    Yep, you missed it! But it was a while ago, so I can hardly hold it against you (and thanks for being interested in the first place, doy). If you want to read it, here’s the URL:

    I’ve seen it several more times since then and love it more and more with every viewing. I’d really like to watch it with my sister next time I see her, not just because I think she’d love it too but because I’ve only seen it on my smallish TV set and she’s got a big HD! Such incredible colors in this film — I’d love to see them in high-def.

  15. zini Says:

    Thanks, what a perfect writeup Meg! spot on.

    And now, because I know you like good recommendations, I will repeat one I offered before because IT’S REALLY GOOD and Dang scary.

    1980, The Changeling starring George C. Scott
    (not the Angelina movieof the same title!).

    I believe Netflix can fix you up, cuz it’s an oldie. Let me know if you can fit it in to the viewing schedule. I might have to have another go at it myself…

  16. Trip Says:

    This movie did not have guns, FX, CGI, wisecracking kids, or talking dogs. And I liked it! It’s not a depressing tear-jerker, and it’s not about a junkie Anne Hathaway tearing a comic swath through an otherwise dignified wedding, either – although her toast was one of the most cringe-inducing things I’ve ever seen in a movie.

    One of my thoughts while watching this was “DAMN what a kick-ass wedding, wish I could get invited to one like that.” The camera work and character interactions were genuinely interesting…especially from the secondary folks who aren’t directly involved with the story, but are there nonetheless (i.e. Dad’s new wife).

  17. briantoohey Says:

    One of my favorite movies of that year. If Anne Hathaway is able to evolve her career into one of a serious actress and away from mainstream crap (I’m looking at you Bride Wars), this is why.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: