Rachel Getting Married (2008)
I must confess that I have never been terribly impressed with Anne Hathaway, and I didn't think I was going to see her in a role in which her often self-centered persona wasn't going to hinder me from sympathizing for her. Remarkably, when she rises to the occasion in Rachel Getting Married, it is through playing an explicitly self-centered and inconsiderate junkie who tries to rediscover her love for her family and herself during the weekend of her sister's marriage.
The talent at work in Rachel Getting Married is evident from the get-go, with great craftmen deployed on both sides of the camera. With that being said, the film takes some time getting into its stride and separating itself from other suburban psychoanalytical indie-films. What does the trick, in addition to the superb acting from said Hathaway and the not too renowned character actor Bill Irwin as the father, is Jonathan Demme's attractive and absorbing direction. His bold style allows lengthy non-narrative sequences of arrangements, chatter, speeches and songs at both rehearsal dinners and weddings. It works because we get gradually sucked into the reality of a wedding weekend and the appurtenant family's mechanisms and nature. Demme thus brings the screenplay by Jenny Lumet (Sidney's daughter) to life, lifting it up from what could easily have been the screenplay of a lesser film.
Demme deploys an extensive and incredibly diverse soundtrack to further increase the effect of familiarity. Sometimes, music can lift a film up to an almost spiritual experience. Other examples from recent years are Broken Flowers (scored by Mulatu Astatke) and The Painted Veil (scored by Alexandre Desplat). The same can be said of this film. From Tunde Adebimpe's partly awkward, partly beautiful a cappella to Zafer Tawil's wonderful violin-piece during the end credits, the music in Rachel Getting Married is as effective as it is inspirational, and it creates the perfect backdrop for Demme's poetic, naturalistic family dissection.