We See Chick Flicks: Rachel Getting Married

I’m not gonna lie; part of why I wanted to see this movie is that it had my name in it. I didn’t read much, if anything about it, aside from seeing the poster, so I will tell you right off what I didn’t know until the film started: this is not really a chick flick, at least, in the sense of feel-good, “Sex and the City”-style romance. It’s dark and intense, and will make you cry…unless you have a heart of stone. But the humor here is highlighted by the otherwise intense drama (aka, a dramedy). It is a chick flick in that it centers around two sisters, whose bond is intense, combative, and holds lots of longtime hurt.

The Lowdown: Anne Hathaway plays Kym, a young woman fresh out of rehab who comes home for the weekend to attend her sister Rachel’s wedding. Immediately, she stirs the household into chaos, and says things like, “You’re so tiny, it’s like you’re Asian” and “Speaking f dogs, when am I gonna meet this fiancé of yours?” She flings her cigarette around next to her sister, who’s dressing in her wedding gown, and sleeps with the hot best man who she happens to have met at a 12-step meeting for drug addicts, yet she’s heartbroken when her sister’s chosen her best friend over Kym as maid of honor, throwing a tantrum until Rachel changes her mind. She’s a train wreck and proceeds to hurtle through her entire family, disrupting everything from the rehearsal dinner to simple conversations. Her me-me-me attitude is annoying, and you only start to feel sorry for her about midway through, and by then it’s almost too late.

During one of the most emotionally tense scenes, Kym says, “You people are my family. You make me feel like s–t 100 times a day.” She’s talking about the baggage she carries around, but that sentiment will surely speak to anyone with “family issues” (and isn’t that really all of us, in some way?). During that scene, which involved tears and yelling, a man behind me said, “She should slap her.” At first I thought he was talking about Kym, but through later mutterings realized he might mean that Rachel should be slapped. That’s part of what makes the movie work so well; Kym is the focal point, and Hathaway plays her perfectly, but we still can’t totally decide what to feel about her. Every time I wanted to empathize with her, she acted out so spectacularly, that I felt much as her sister did; sick of focusing on her when there were so many more interesting people around. Yet her hurt is so palpable, when she breaks down at a meeting,

The Verdict: The film has a stellar cast, with everyone from Debra Winger as Rachel and Kim’s mom to Anna Deveare Smith as their stepmother, with Fab Five Freddy and Robyn Hitchcock cameos thrown in.

As for whether it’s appropriate for date night, I’d say yes, as long as you’ve been going out with the person long enough to be able to let go and cry in front of them. Both the fact that there’s an interracial couple getting married, and that’s not the focal point of the movie, and that a movie about a wedding doesn’t revolve around wedding minutiae or any kind of frivolity (the bridesmaids wear saris, not taffeta), but rather the intense family dynamics that are brought together, in a very combustible way, is quite welcome. Bring extra tissues.

You can watch the trailer here.