Saturday, November 15, 2008

Kym makes it to her sister's wedding

When Kym (Anne Hathaway) returns to the Buchman family home for the wedding of her sister Rachel (Rosemarie Dewitt), she brings a long history of personal crisis and family conflict along with her in Rachel Getting Married. The wedding party’s abundant cast of friends and relations have gathered for an idyllic weekend of feasting, music and love, but Kym — with her black-humor and knack for bombshell drama — is a catalyst for long-simmering tensions in the family dynamic.

Anne Hathaway started off in her teens as the cheery lead of "The Princess Diary" series, but in the decidedly adult, Bergmanesque drama "Rachel Getting Married," you need to double-check the credits to make sure it's the same actress. Hathaway reinvents herself as Kym, the family's black sheep who gets out of rehab just in time for her sister's wedding. From the first scene, in which her dad, Paul (Bill Irwin), picks her up when she's released, it's clear Kym is nobody's princess. She's been through years of drug addiction, and the maelstrom of pain spread to all those around her. She's lost the trust of her family, testing the boundaries of their love. And now she's back, with a sardonic flip of the hair and self-deprecating wit. In her twisted, self-centered view, the marriage is just another way for her sister to prove her superiority. Kym may not be too far off target. Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt) has some series issues of her own, and snipes at Kym in a passive-aggressive manner that chips away at her fragile self-confidence. But Rachel treats Kym like royalty compared to the indifference shown by their flighty mother (Debra Winger), who tellingly isn't helping Rachel plan the wedding. Paul, a warm but emotionally numb figure, acts as a referee between Rachel and Kym. Overshadowing all of the family interactions is a dark moment from the past — Kym's low point — that hardly anyone will acknowledge. The secret comes to light in offhand snippets of dialogue and solemn moments of awkward silence.
"Rachel Getting Married" is Hathaway's coming-out party, and even if she doesn't land any major awards or nominations, it establishes her as a performer of awesome depth. She makes you care for Kym, fear for her and even despise her — much the way her family reacts. Given to jarring shifts between lucid insight and cataclysmic meltdowns, Hathaway makes Kym seem like a real person rather than a cartoonish concoction. Thing is, Kym isn’t a villain. Surrounded by opportunities to backslide she stubbornly resists and religiously attends the local 12-step meetings. Even here, though, she can’t hang back, sneering at the banal testimony of the other addicts. Then she delivers her own story, and it’s so horrifying and riddled with guilt it’s a wonder Kym’s family hasn’t disowned her. Or that she hasn’t killed herself. Hathaway's vulnerable turn as Kym makes a character that could have been unlikable very sympathetic instead. Supporting performers DeWitt and Bill Irwin, who plays their doting father, are good, too. (Debra Winger pops up briefly as his estranged wife.) I would have to say that this is THE best movie that Anne Hathaway has done so far in her career. She made a good choice when she decided to do this movie and so did I in choosing to see it. Make a good choice also. See this movie. A strong 4 on my "Go See" scale.

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