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Rachel Getting Married 

Demme makes a profound, realistic drama.

The friction of sisterhood centres Rachel Getting Married. One girl’s dream-life is coming together. The other sees herself as an object of family judgment---after all these years, she’s still a mess. But it’s a nonjudgemental approach that makes Jonathan Demme’s realist drama profound. In a career benchmark, Anne Hathaway plays Kym, the black sheep of her family’s fairytale perfection. Demme’s handheld photography observes the other sister Rachel’s wedding, focusing on typical speeches and toasts---rituals of tradition with which Kym can only pretend to identify. Back home after 10 years in rehab, Kym’s proximity to Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt) on her wedding day accentuates her own defeat.

There’s recognition of privilege in the way Demme frames Kym’s self-absorption (fighting for her bridesmaid rights, having introductory sex with a wedding guest) against her family’s progressive comfort (it’s unspoken that this is an interracial marriage). A joyful scene where the father Paul (Bill Irwin) has a dishwasher-stacking contest with the groom (TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe) is broken up by a family memento. Paul deals with the tragedy privately. Demme’s previous few films have been non-fiction, and Rachel usually has the observational approach of a documentary.

Though Kym’s family support her in the sense that they consider themselves liberal enough to put up with it, her disturbance echoes pop-song malaise: She’s not growing up with the same life experiences she’s told she’s supposed to have.

That this makes her sometimes un-endearing is part of how Demme (working from Jenny Lumet’s screenplay) imagines a simple story in three dimensions. Some viewers will side with Rachel, others with Kym. The makers’ clear-eyed approach gives it life.

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