Monday, November 10, 2008

Film Review: Rachel Gets Married; Don't Miss this Great Demme Film

Rachel Gets Married

Produced and Directed by Jonathan Demme

Eric Green

When you see this film, RACHEL GETS MARRIED, make sure your seat belt is tight and firm. Jonathan Demme has created a real exciting masterpiece. But, be warned, this is not an easy 110 minutes.

His direction, camera work and selection of actors for very difficult characters to play were exceptional. What a cast!

Of course it all starts with the writing. Jenny Lumet is the writer, the daughter of Sidney Lumet and the granddaughter of Lena Horne. You can almost see the world that Jenny Lumet grew up in; not necessarily the characters, but the many multi racial and cultural backgrounds of the assembly cast and their music.

And, with such a start studded cast, Demme and his crew chose a new comer to play the central role of Rachel. Rosemarie DeWitt, an entirely new actor, was able to capture the angst of getting married and having a rather difficult family lead by a mother who, played by Debra Winger, is about as icy and detached as you can get.

The father of the bride, played brilliantly by veteran actor Bill Irwin, captures the wild life of that household. He doesn't escape his own responsibilities in creating the deep problems the family faces.

Rachel's choice for maid of honor, Emma, played by another first time actor, Anisa George, is right out of Connecticut central casting. She is perfect. And, the best man played by veteran TV actor, Mathew Zickel, is also expertly casted and played.

But, the top star of the cast, the highly advertised Hollywood celebrity, did not disappoint: Ann Hathaway. On the contrary, she gave an Oscar level performance. For theatergoers worried that she would be just another ingénue role, with maybe a wrinkle here and there, they will be greatly surprised and rewarded. She is expertly directed to not over act and to be subtle when the occasion arises. She is a joy, albeit difficult given who she was portraying, to watch.

Anna Deavere Smith plays Irwin's new wife; and Winger's new husband is completely in the dark about everything. He was just an ornament for his character.

The remarkable thing about this film was the ability of Demme to take what could have been very hackneyed situations and turn them into dramatic masterpieces.

The scenes between sisters Rachel and Kym with their mother, Winger, were probably the most difficult ones to witness; and you did feel that you were witnessing them. Debra Winger gave a truly insightful presence to her role and may garner a lot of attention in a best supporting actress role.

Here was a family that had a white father and Black step mother; a marriage between a white Connecticut beauty and a Black music industry operative. This was a wedding between two families that were very different in terms of race and class, Rachel's family being from clearly upper strata Connecticut levels and the groom from the Williams family that probably was not.

Rachel's' husband to be, Sidney, played by Tunde Adebimpe, plays a quiet by strong role throughout the film. When he sings to his bride Neil Young's great song, "Heart of Gold," there wasn't a dry eye in the house. The placement of the groom's cousin, played by Joseph Gonzalez, as an active military soldier in Iraq, I think sent the class differences.

The selection of the widely varying music selections and the musicians selected to perform them was just another very unique, wonderful part of this film.

But, while the differences among the assembled people were clear on screen, they never needed to be explained. Clearly, while these were important aspects of the film quilt, Lumet's script had other purposes. Here it was the two sisters and mother; with a father who tried hard, but missed the mark too often. But, ultimately the importance of family reigned overall.

Don't miss this film.