You shouldn’t judge a movie by its title. ‘Rachel Getting Married’ sounds like a dumbed down feel good movie until you see that the director is Jonathan Demme. Not only has Demme directed top rate music movies with Talking Heads and Neil Young, he’s also got an impressive record of intelligent blockbusters like Philadelphia and Silence of the Lambs. You wouldn’t expect him to turn in a superficial comedy and fortunately he hasn’t.
As the title indicates, the plot is built around the wedding of Rachel. She’s actually tying the knot with the lead singer of TV On The Radio (Sidney is played by Tunde Adebimpe) and has an eclectic guest list that includes quirky live folk singing from Robyn Hitchcock , samba rhythms from Cyro Baptista & Beat The Donkey, reggae from Congo Sister Carol East and a Middle Eastern band headed by Zafer Tawil. It’s a very funky gathering but the spanner in the works is her sister Kym who has been given leave of absence from rehab to attend the ceremony.
In this role Anne Hathaway is a revelation. I would never have imagined her delicate beauty in so harsh a role but her character is totally convincing. You feel sympathy for her without ever forgetting what a pain in the ass she is.
Demme, has described how he wanted to create an ‘off formula’ movie in the style of independent films he admires rather than sticking to the predictable mainstream narrative structure. The result has strong echoes of movie maverick Robert Altman for the way many scenes don’t really have a well defined beginning or ending but just happen. Apparently actors played out their roles, often using ad libbed dialogue, without knowing where the camera was or what was going to make it to the final cut. It could have been a completer shambles but the movie has a real spontaneity about it.
It does have feel good ending of sorts but without the Hollywood schmultz. Enough is left ambiguous as evidence that this is a film with balls and brains.