Memorable masterpiece

After delving into the world of documentaries for the past few years, Jonathan Demme is back to the actors and scripts, though Rachel Getting Married doesn’t seem to have either. If it weren’t for Debra Winger and Anne Hathaway’s recognizable faces, Demme could have passed this film off as another documentary,which looks inside the life of a family torn apart by addiction and tragedy.

Kym (Hathaway), an ex-junkie just out of rehab, goes back to her family home for her sister’s marriage. Frustrated by her family’s over-cautious treatment of her, Kym struggles with transitioning back into her former life. On the other side, Kym’s family members (especially her sister) are torn between love and sympathy for Kym and irritation with her selfish, reckless behavior.

The two sisters, Kym and Rachel (played by Rosemarie DeWitt) are constantly butting heads throughout the film, as Rachel feels that Kym is trying to draw attention to herself by constantly referring to her stint in rehab and her efforts to overcome her addiction. When the subject of Kym’s younger brother, whose death she was arguably responsible for, arises, the family drama reaches a boiling point.

For the audience, Kym is both the heroine and villain. Hathaway proves herself to be a clever and highly talented actress with her portrayal, navigating smoothly through Kym’s moments of vulnerability and selfishness. Her performance, however, does not outshine that of any of the other actors in the film. Even the minor characters that work their ways on and off of the screen are highly developed as individuals, through their interactions and reactions with the others.

Bill Irwin, who plays Kym’s overprotective father, is the kind of parent that any recovering junkie would be all too lucky to have. Often, his quirky dialogue and spotless timing function as major contributors to the overall tone of the film. DeWitt also delivers a powerful performance, portraying herself as a kind-hearted, clear-thinking young woman.

Jenny Lumet’s script contains dialogue that is so realistic that it seems ripped out of true-life family counseling sessions. While some of the more dramatic scenes stretch the envelope a little too far, inciting raised eyebrows rather than tears. Still, for most of the film, the emotional intensity is at just the right level.

When combined with Demme’s unconventional directing, which relies heavily on a low-budget, home-movie feel, the film gives off an even stronger impression of reality.

Although occasionally long-winded and overdramatic, Demme’s latest film is touching, darkly amusing and memorable. If the possibility of developing a headache due to the shaky camera work isn’t a deterrent, than this film is definitely worth the ticket price.