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A Wedding in Connecticut

May 1, 2009

Who would’ve thought Jonathan Demme could put together such a fantastic wedding!

Location: Huge but bohemian, well-heeled Connecticut home surrounded by a frequently wet and rainy yard perfect for a gigantic wedding tent or a prolonged screaming match.

Wedding Party: Musically inclined patriarch striving to pull clan together, aloof self-exiled matriarch as played by absolutely fabulous Debra Winger, radiant bride still bitter over basket case sister but marrying hunk of a man who sings her Neil Young’s “Unknown Legend” in a moving a cappella at wedding ceremony, and last but not least, Anne Hathaway as Kym, the ex-model/junkie sister who inadvertently drove self and young brother off cliff in a drug-filled haze and therefore vortex of such long-tentacled angst as never before seen in a 2-hour movie.

Wedding Guests: An eclectic mix of all colors and creed, none of whom you would terribly mind being stuck with at any of the place-carded tables mysteriously planned to seat you among strangers with whom you ostensibly have things in common. Although it is a bit unrealistic- there’s nary a chatty Granny or hairy Great-uncle in sight! Friends and relatives over the age of 60 must not have been invited.

The music throughout the movie is excellent- from solemn jazz saxophones during the dinner rehearsal to belly-dancing music at the reception tent. In fact, the music is so persistent, the family had to ask for silence during one of their stand-offs.

The other thing that’s unique about this movie is the non-intrusive use of the hand-held camera. The focus is not too frequently shaky and sometimes has the effect of making you feel like you’re simply watching a very faithful but non-grainy home video of all the proceedings.

Weddings are prime events for emotional turmoil to begin with, that’s probably why it’s been the topic of many a film. But I think Rachel Getting Married does a better job than Noah Baumbach’s recent Margot at the Wedding, mostly because its characters are endlessly more entertaining, and given Anne Hathaway’s extremely prickly character, its dialogue more acerbic. To wit, her toast to the happy couple begins this way: “Hello, I’m Shiva the Destroyer and your harbinger of doom for the evening. … I haven’t seen most of you since my latest stretch in the big house. But you all look fabulous.”

The actors all do a very competent job and their less histrionic moments are definitely the most stirring. But how on earth does Debra Winger still look absolutely divine, and how come her secret hasn’t been bottled for the mass market yet? It might just also be my imagination, but Bill Irwin (who plays the stressed-out dad) kind of looks like Jon Voight, and Rosemarie DeWitt (who plays Rachel) is a dead ringer for Tina Fey in that haircut. Hmm…

Anyway, I had taken a mental health break from work today partly to get the rest of my cleaning done, but was pleasantly distracted by this movie instead. I’d say it was a wedding well worth the afternoon, and I didn’t even have to get all primped up! 😀

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