Movie Review: Rachel Getting Married

I wish I had watched this one later, because it would have been even more refreshing.  Rachel Getting Married is not so much a wedding movie as it is a movie in which a wedding happens.  And the wedding actually happens, which distinguishes it from all the other movies I’ve thus far reviewed.

Anne Hathaway stars in both this and Bride Wars, suggesting she chooses scripts with an angel and a devil sitting on her shoulders.  The difference between watching the weddings that appear in Bride Wars and the wedding that appears in Rachel Getting Married is like the difference between watching a season of Platinum Weddings [disclaimer: I have never actually seen that show] and browsing through the Wedding Graduates on A Practical Wedding [newly relaunched, yay!].

Rachel Getting Married is mainly a family melodrama (which for some people will make it even more realistic), but it is clear the filmmakers went to great pains to make the wedding as genuine a backdrop as possible for all the fights and recriminations and monologues.  The film does a wonderful job capturing the joy, togetherness, and celebration of weddings, and the high-strung feelings and sometimes painful emotions that crop up as well.

That realness is mainly accomplished through superb acting, as well as the handheld camera stylings (which I believe led one of my friends to walk out of the theater, so your mileage may vary).  But there are also a series of spot-on details that support the feeling that this wedding could actually happen and I could actually go to it:

It rains.  The choreography of the processional is too much for the flower girl to handle.  The couple exchanges vows that are a little rambly, but still moved me to tears (the groom, played by TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adibimpe, provides perhaps the film’s best moment when he sings Neil Young’s “Unknown Legend” to his bride at the altar).  The guests laugh and woop and clap their way through the ceremony.  People take photos with their pocket digital cameras:

Doesn’t that look more like a scene from a wedding than a scene from a wedding movie?  I truly appreciated how the guests were of different ages, dressed to different levels of formality, and (this is the big one) not all white people.

The reception scenes also offer little notes of reality that warmed my heart: guests hovering around a lighter for a clearly-needed smoke break, a sullen teen leaning against a tent post while the drunk grownups around her get down, the bride wearing an apron while she carries plates of barbecue to her guests, as the groom’s shy brother captures it all on the video camera he hides behind.

It’s still a bit of a fantasy world.  The combined family and their friends appear to have a glut of talent and money. There is literally a talent show before the rehearsal dinner in this movie.  I tried to count how many different musical performers there are at the ceremony and reception but lost count after 12, including the not-me Robyn Hitchcock:

Some critics didn’t like how the movie cast many people of color and included several interracial relationships without comment.  Personally, I really appreciated that not everyone was white in a wedding movie, and I didn’t need “an explanation” for the interracial couples or the diverse guests.  But one thing that did bug me about Rachel Getting Married‘s unusual treatment of race was the Indian “theme” for the wedding (the bride and bridesmaids wear saris, the groom wears a flower garland, the wedding cake is topped with a large a blue fondant elephant), particularly because South Asians were not represented in the diverse cast, and there was no apparent connection between the bride and groom or their families to India.  [Here’s a nice post on the cultural appropriation in the film.]

Regardless, I suspect I’ll return to this film when I need a hearty dose of “yay, weddings!”  I’d recommend it to anyone involved in a wedding, with the caveat that if your family suffers from very little drama, you might want to fast forward to the wedding parts because the bulk of the film might bore you.  Additionally, if your family suffers from too much drama, you might want to use the same strategy to avoid nightmares about your own family’s grudges and sad memories and penchant for fighting in the kitchen taking over your wedding weekend.   Also you might need to take a Dramamine.

Advertisements

6 responses to “Movie Review: Rachel Getting Married

  1. Pingback: The food dilemma « weddingness

  2. I loved this movie. loved it. The issue of interracial couples never even stood out to me, maybe finally there’s people in the world who see it as normal instead of blaringly “different”. The Indian references didn’t necessary bother me, I love the culture, but it is really strange that none of characters are Indian and the film never explained that source of inspiration. What I loved most was the raw emotion and human relationships. Nothing was held back. And there were quite a few scenes where I felt like I was intruding, it was uncomfortable and that fascinates me in a film, to be able to go that deep.

    • I would have also felt much more comfortable with the Indian stuff if they’d met in India, or lived there together, or something alone those lines. But I honestly don’t know if it is fair to think that “cures” the appropriation. As a privileged white person living in the US, where we celebrate our melting pot despite our appalling history of systemic racism, it can be hard to sort this stuff out. I’ll probably write a whole post about it one day I feel up to the challenge.

  3. I loved the tense family dynamics and the culturally diverse characters. I also liked the fact that it rained. In fact, my favorite scene (and this is where the movie really sucked me in) was the rehearsal dinner and the speeches. Damn, I loved that part. What drove me nuts was the wandering musicians scattered about the house at all times! I mean, c’mon people!

    And I didn’t get the Indian theme either. Not to say that you have to be part of a culture to appreciate it, but it definitely stuck out to me.

  4. Pingback: Location, Location, Location « Another Ring Coming

  5. Pingback: Style Maven: Anne Hathaway | Gypsy Mind

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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