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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Rachel Getting Married


Starring: Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt and Bill Irwin
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: 15
Available 29 June 2009

Kym is a recovering addict, who has spent a decade continually in and out of drug Rehab. Finally, several months into what looks to be a successful treatment, she is given a weekend pass to attend her sister’s wedding in a wealthy part of Connecticut. The large house is full of memories, ghosts of the past, as Rachel prepares to wed Sidney, a classical musician. Kym arrives a well loved, but troubled member of the extended family...

Rachel Getting Married (2008 - 1 hr, 52 min, 43 sec) is a superb exploration of a family having to deal with its own black sheep. The film was directed by Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Philadelphia (1993)) from an original script by Jenny Lumet, daughter of director Sidney Lumet. The film was nominated for an Oscar and went on to win eighteen awards, nominated for a further nineteen.

Here, the director has gone for an Altmanesque, cinéma vérité feel to the film with the movie being shot on Hi Def handheld video cameras, with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, which is a style which may feel unsettling for some, but one which is increasingly in use in television and cinema. Personally I felt that the technique had been a little overused and the picture barely stops moving throughout the feature. Demme is at ease with both combination of smaller moments which make up the preparations of the wedding and the longer dramatic sequences. One of the strong elements is the diverse soundtrack which Demme employs to elevate his movie, pulling it ahead of many similar movies. Given that the film was created using HD cameras, the picture was never going to be as good as film and generally has a soft feel to the visuals, still the Blu-ray version shows the film at its best.

The film was never going to be an easy sell, as it would stand or fall on the audiences sympathy, or at least understanding of the characters. Kym is not someone you would voluntarily invite to a wedding unless the ties of blood were stronger than anything else, nor does Kym endear herself to her family by bedding the best man, Kieran (Mather Zickel), shortly after she arrives home. She then goes on to highjack the wedding rehearsal for an uncomfortable bit of soul searching, which reduces the guests to stunned silence. Where one would expect mawkish sentimentality between the sisters, as the driving force of the film, Demme and Lumet provide a more realistic view of living with a troubled and damaged sibling.

Anne Hathaway (Brokeback Mountain (2005), The Devil Wears Prada, (2006) Bride Wars (2009)) won well deserved, widespread praise for her portrayal of the self-obsessed Kym, including her nomination for the Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role. Indeed, the lion’s share of awards and nominations for the movie were for Hathaway. This is not an easy character to love which makes her families acceptance of her faults all the more poignant. The rest of the cast provide some very naturalistic performances which makes Kym’s behaviour all the more excruciating to watch.

The disc is well presented with a number of substantial extras including a full length commentary with producer Neda Armia, screen writer Jenny Lumet and editor Tim Squyers, plus another with actress Rosemarie Dewitt. Oddly enough there is no director's commentary or any contribution from Anne Hathaway, still the commentaries open up a lot of the themes of the film and for this alone are worth listening to. Next up is a collection of featurettes. The Wedding Band (7 min, 47 sec) takes a look at Demmes process of seamlessly integrating the score into the film, rather than have it sit over the action. We have a whopper with the Cast and Crew Q&A (49 min, 20 sec) which has an on stage moderated exploration of the film with many of those involved, a nice meaty extra, even if it did feel like it was dragging in places and takes a look at the film from its inception to completion. A Look Behind the Scenes at Rachel Getting Married (15 min, 48 sec) is your more run-of-the-mill extra, with onset footage of the film being made. The disc wraps up with nine deleted scenes (18 min, 52 sec) which flesh out the characters a little more; the quality of the shots leads me to believe that this is the original uncorrected footage. And finally you get the Original Theatrical Trailer (2 min, 25 sec).

Although there is an option for BD live, reviewers tend to get their discs before the film is release or any extra content is available, so there’s nothing here at the moment, but that may well change. The disc also contains trailers for Seven Pounds, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and The Jane Austin Book Club.

The disc is provided with an English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround track, of which, very little use is made. The film mainly consists of conversations which sound like they were recorded in the house, so although the track is clear, the quality can be variable, given the naturalistic echo of the set. There are options for a number of European subtitles, English for the hard of hearing and an English descriptive track

This is often a difficult film to watch as neither the director nor cast intend to play nice with the audience as it exposes the difficult relationships which have to be navigated prior to the wedding, especially Kym’s narcissistic nature, whose whole world revolves around her addiction - an addiction which has damaged many of her family members. Like all real families the group fluctuate between loving and hating each other. Eventually, though, the love that they feel for one another is the glue that keeps them together.


Charles Packer

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