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The Northerner

Hathaway’s daring role

David Germain, Associated Press

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Ever been to one of those weddings that just will not end?

“Rachel Getting Married” is the cinematic equivalent, a movie with a powerful performance from Anne Hathaway but a story undone by the self-indulgence of director Jonathan Demme, who loiters interminably on some scenes.

Demme’s detours into documentaries (“Neil Young: Heart of Gold,” ”Jimmy Carter: Man From Plains”) actually serve him well as he crafts a loose, docudrama style that infuses great authenticity into this anguished reunion tale of family and friends.

As good as Hathaway and her co-stars are, a little of their characters’ recriminations and reproaches would have gone a long way. A lot of recriminations and reproaches is what Demme gives us, and “Rachel Getting Married” collapses under the weight of the family’s shared distress.

Hathaway’s Kym Buchman is a user and abuser, a woman who became a hopeless addict in her teens then sank even lower after her drug habit led to a family tragedy.

Out of rehab for the wedding of her upright sister, Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt), Kym returns to the family homestead and immediately tries to make the hustle and bustle of preparations all about her.

The movie shares unfortunate thematic similarities to Nicole Kidman’s dreary sister tale “Margot at the Wedding” from last year, but since hardly anybody saw that one, “Rachel Getting Married” at least will be a fresh sort of dreariness for most viewers.

Screenwriter Jenny Lumet, daughter of filmmaker Sidney Lumet, has created the broad arc of what could have been a thoroughly satisfying and perceptive study of how families deny, confront and regroup in the face of the worst adversity.

Where “Rachel Getting Married” strays is in the details – an endless and often boring sequence of toasts at a rehearsal dinner, repetitive bickering between maid of honor Kym and a bridesmaid, a bizarre mini-drama surrounding a competition over who can load a dishwasher the fastest.

Demme weaves his love of music into the movie, orchestrating an organic musical score created out of live performances taking place throughout the household as the family’s many musical friends rehearse and jam.

Palestinian musician Zafer Tawil and jazz saxophonist Donald Harrison Jr. composed the score and perform throughout the movie. Among a dozen or so others providing music are Robyn Hitchcock, the subject of Demme’s documentary “Storefront Hitchcock,” and the director’s son, Brooklyn Demme.

“Rachel Getting Married” is overrun with Demme’s friends, and perhaps that contributes to the movie’s bloat. No doubt it was fun assembling so many close associates, but like Kym, Demme doesn’t know when enough is enough for those who aren’t part of the family circle.

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The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.
Hathaway’s daring role