February 19, 2009 -- The main thing of note about “Rachel Getting Married” are the numerous acting awards garnered by Anne Hathaway, the star of the film. No, she's not Rachel, that part is played by Rosemarie DeWitt of “Shut Up and Sing” who also does a great job here. Hathaway plays her sister Kym, a recovering alcoholic and drug user. She gets out of rehab to attend her sister's wedding and lands in an emotional storm that threatens to sink her unstable personality. Rachel and Kym belong to a dysfunctional family which threatens to fracture as the wedding approaches.
I know what you are thinking. Another film about a dysfunctional family and an alcoholic? Who needs that? Probably it was written as therapy. The screenplay is fairly standard and even has a few cracks in it. This sort of thing has been done to death, but this film does have exceptional performances. Those performances lift this film above the level of mediocrity.
Some of you may have noted this film ended up on critic Ben Mankiewicz's worst films of 2008 list. What bullshit! Mankiewicz and critic Ben Lyons on their weekly movie critic show had the following movies on their worst films of 2008 lists, “Synecdoche, New York,” “Speed Racer,” “Indiana Jones and The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull,” “Vantage Point,” “Mamma Mia!” and “Rachel Getting Married.”
The real worst films of 2008, according to most top critics were the following, “Disaster Movie,” “Meet the Spartans,” “The Hottie and the Nottie,” “In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale,” “Surfer, Dude,” “Strange Wilderness,” “Harold,” “Witless Protection,” “Prom Night,” “88 Minutes,” “Saw V,” “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” “An American Carol,” “House of the Sleeping Beauties,” and “Take.” These were not only the worst movies of the year, they all scored among the worst movies ever listed on the Metacritic.com movie review aggregation site for any year. None of these films appeared on the televised lists of Mankiewicz and Lyons. What Lyons and Mankiewicz are doing is simply blasting popular films. They do this for two reasons. One, this strategy draws attention to themselves, and two, they probably haven't seen all the worst films of the year. Their “worst of 2008” lists are disingenuous. The TV film critics show that began years ago with noted critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert has come to shame. Better critics are needed for the show and there are hundreds of critics to choose from that are far better than these two.
So ignore Mankiewicz. This is a good film, not a bad one. It certainly has its weaknesses as well as strengths, but its strengths cannot be ignored in all fairness. The drama is powerful. Hathaway is as good as all those awards she has gotten. She plays a person who is genuinely remorseful because of her past actions which resulted in a tragedy. This tragedy is hung around her neck like an albatross by the rest of the family. They want her to pay for it over and over again. They also don't want to admit their own part in the whole sorry affair. This situation results in several memorable confrontations. One between Rachel and Kym over who will be the maid of honor at her wedding, one between Kym and her mother over who was really responsible for the tragedy, and another between Kym and Rachel over how many times she has to pay for her past mistakes. There are also some memorable scenes at Kym's group therapy sessions. These scenes are among the most emotionally powerful I've seen in any 2008 movie. This is not a great movie, but it has some great performances in it which cannot be ignored. This film rates a B.
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