Film about rehab girl leaves you saying no, no, no

PUBLISHED: 12:02 29 January 2009 | UPDATED: 15:52 07 September 2010

Rachel Getting Married (15) Director Jonathan Demme Starring Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt, Bill Irwin, Debra Winger, Tunde Adebimpe, Mather Zickel 113 mins Two star rating The latest Demme (Silence of the Lambs) film provokes odd emotions. Watching i

Rachel Getting

Married (15)

Director Jonathan Demme Starring Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt, Bill Irwin, Debra Winger, Tunde Adebimpe, Mather Zickel 113 mins

Two star rating

The latest Demme (Silence of the Lambs) film provokes odd emotions. Watching it was close to unbearable but by the end I felt oddly protective of it.

Some affluent, self obsessed American middle class people have their wedding plans disrupted when the bride's sister (Hathaway) returns to the family home after a spell in rehab, clean for nine months but still destructively attention seeking. The plot is a theatrical archetype - domestic order threatened by the arrival of an outsider and the Terrible Secret Past Event she embodies.

But Demme takes the script in an opposing directing, submerging it in a big weekend party to which he has invited loads of his real life friends and musician acquaintances, shooting it in an almost documentary fly on the wall style. (Think Altman or Cassavetes.) It's as if someone had taken the lead characters and some key scenes from a "serious" Woody Allen drama and then tried to lose them in a crowd.

Demme clearly loves everyone here but you may soon grow to loathe this oh so bohemian, oh so hip crowd. Near the beginning there is a scene at a pre-wedding dinner where everybody gets up to say a few words about the happy couple and it goes on for approximately three hours and you couldn't feel more trapped and bored if you were actually in the room there with them.

It's building to Hathaway making her inappropriate and misjudged contribution but when it comes you just squirm and wish she would stop because it's not funny and you've been in that room with them for so long there isn't any comic distance between you and the characters.

I despaired when two characters had a dish washer loading contest but that scene has a walloping and unexpected pay off. If you get taken in by the characters and situation the emotional confrontations will have a fierce, raw intensity.

It's horribly misjudged yet as it wearily neared its end I had developed a grudging respect for its openness, its contrariness and the freedom it allows an audience. Anyone who is tired of filmmakers whose idea of storytelling is yanking them forcefully from A to B to C may find much to enjoy here; or at least a renewed appreciation for being forcefully yanked from A to B to C.


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