Tragedy continuously haunts the memories of the characters in Rachel Getting Married, causing heartbreak that freshly stings every time they peer into the mirror. These people are victims of real life, bringing piercing pain derived from lost love and the inability to achieve happiness for more than a passing second. The fact that these sensitive and emotionally gripping issues are unveiled in a film as joyously optimistic as Rachel Getting Married is some kind of a miracle.
Anne Hathaway is startlingly effective as Kym, a disturbed woman released from a drug rehabilitation center for the weekend to attend her sister’s wedding. She is constantly uncomfortable in the normal social world, exhibited by the slight uneasy facial expressions and possibly explaining the reason she found drugs as her only solace. Hathaway plays Kym as an individual whose selfishness is only exceeded by the judgmental stares she believes are coming from everywhere.
The remainder of the family and attendants at the wedding are as complicated and fascinating as Kym. Rachel (Rosemary DeWitt) believes that Kym is garnering vast attention that should be reserved for the bride, continuing a sense of alienation she felt growing up. The father (Bill Irwin) loves both of his daughters deeply, but understands that more tact must be applied when dealing with Kym than Rachel. The mother of the family (Debra Winger) is the saddest soul, seeming detached from the rest and without the capability of unconditional love or forgiveness. Every attendee adds something to the film, significant not only within their roles but also how their presence affects others.
All of the performances provide appealing and wonderful people who deserve careful examination of the reasons behind their emotions, but Hathaway establishes a character that is nothing short of unforgettable. You cannot keep your eyes off her, even when her face is supposedly in the background. Hathaway has amazing focus in her portrayal of a person who cannot hope to heal her hurtful, plaguing addiction before she forgives herself for past transgressions. It is interesting that the same event that perpetuated her addiction might be the same thing that will save her life.
Rachel Getting Married is observant and quiet, but the screams simmering from these people’s hearts can be heard from even those who do not know them. The wedding itself is vibrant and fascinating, chronicling two cultures clashing together in a ceremony that would not have been possible decades ago. The ending is poignant and understated, realizing that the complexities of relationships within intricate lives cannot be solved in one weekend alone. Rachel Getting Married grants the audience the pleasure of not only knowing these individuals, but also with the sentiment that you are part of the family, knowing the demons that accompany them at night along with the love that brings their smiles out of the darkness and into light.