It is only on the rarest of occasions that I am able to arrive at a movie theater that is playing an independent film in its initial run. This is a problem for me for a couple of reasons, because I used to leave thirty-five or forty miles away from the nearest independent theater who would play such a film, as well as being stupid by not following the distribution lists of new independent films very closely. However, since I have moved closer to a couple of independent theaters I have been following along to their listings of show times for new independent films that are being released. Combining my relocation efforts and my interest in Anne Hathaway (do not blame me for my insatiable attractions) I was excitedly interested in seeing Rachel Getting Married (2008).

With a fair disclosure I must announce right up front that I might be biased (with my interest in Anne) when I claim that I am interested in seeing this film a second time in the theaters before it gets pulled. Hopefully my work schedule will clear up soon enough to catch another showing before the theater yanks it from their marquee. The film was impressively engaging despite the heavy topic of alcohol addiction and the lives of the family members that it effects. The audience is quickly introduced to Kym who has been residing at a rehabilitation center for several months in an attempt to remain sober from substance abuse.

I would easily comprehend anyone who would tell me that they could not watch this film, because it may hit the ball too close to home. Substance abuse is a common day problem that has infiltrated the lives of a lot of American families. Watching a film like Rachel Getting Married may only serve as a reminder of the harsh reality that we face in our real lives.

The entire film takes place over a single weekend in which Kym leaves the rehabilitation center to visit her father’s house for the wedding of her sister. Her entire family is cautious with Kym’s progress as a recovering addict. Will she fit in well with all of the wedding guests or will she be an outcast who draws selfishly needed attention upon herself?

As the film continues through its story it is very plain by the faces of her parents and her sister that they are uncomfortable with her outspoken nature and harsh responses during the courses of the weekend. They are clearly worn out with trying to cope with her recovery from addiction. I have met a couple of people who have dealt with this issue in their own lives when they must come face to face with an addiction that is taking over the life of a member of their own family. It can be an exhausting lifestyle, because the addict can be unpredictable at times and even uncontrollable. It is a due hardship that is wearing upon those who are close to the person, and I would not be surprised if they were not thrilled by the idea of sitting down to watch a two hour film about someone who is attempting to rid their life of the self-abuse.

Rachel Getting Married is a film about individual recovery and the devout strength of family ties. I was drawn into the high emotional tension between the family and friends who are juggling between the stressful weekend of planning for a wedding along with the tight strain of handling a recovering addict who wants a large amount of attention from her family.

The film’s intense drama will leave the audience so quiet during a few of the emotionally charged scenes that you could hear a sewing pin hit the floor of the theater. There is a very strong sense of realism with the film’s characters, and I am impressed that director Jonathan Demme was able to keep the flow of the film moving at a solid pace for a great majority of the film’s running duration.

There were a few moments when the pacing would slow down a bit as the characters would be performing musical numbers. The family and their friends are a group of artists, mostly comprised of musicians, who share the common bond of music. There were several scenes in which the group would gather together and play a song or two on their instruments. These moments has offered a nice break from the emotional tension of the story, but they could bear a feeling of a prolonged break for some viewers who are still wrapped up in the drama of the story.

Surprisingly, I have found the story to be a tremendously interesting film due to the nature of its realism and emotional drawing power. It might be too much for some viewers to bear watching since it does correlate with the lives of so many of us who may have dealt with such a difficult point in life.

Thinking upon the entire film I would like to consider that it should be deserving of an award for best writing of an original screenplay. The writing credit goes to Jenny Lumet, who breaks into the film industry with this film marking as her feature film writing debut; talk about starting off with a bang. Rachel Getting Married is a sharp film that I would definitely want to go watch a second time, and I hope you may have an opportunity to watch it as well.

Promotional trailer for Rachel Getting Married (2008).

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