Francesca Rudkin is an entertainment reviewer for NZ Herald.

Rachel Getting Married

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Rating: * * * *

Verdict: Joyous one minute, depressing the next, great performances overcome this film's improvised style of shooting.

Directed by Jonathan Demme, Rachel Getting Married is an honest, moving portrayal of a white, middle-class dysfunctional family trying to deal with the tragic consequences of addiction.

Anne Hathaway has long since moved away from the sweet teen films such as The Princess Diaries that launched her career. Her role as a recovering junkie in this heart-wrenching drama shows just how determined she is to be taken seriously in Hollywood.

Kym (Hathaway) returns home from nine months in rehab to attend her sister Rachel's (Rosemarie DeWitt) wedding. While her doting father, stepmother and sister are welcoming and supportive, Kym's never-ending self-absorbed antics push them to their limits, and threaten to ruin Rachel's day.

Hathaway does a great job of capturing Kym's vulnerability and her confusion over whether she can ever be anything other than an "addict". She's complex, difficult and at times nasty, but so genuinely flawed that like her family you can't help but care about her.

All the performances are solid and impressive, especially the almost unrecognisable Debra Winger as Kym's emotionally distant mother Abby. She makes a big impact as, barely able to tolerate her daughter, their inevitable confrontation is jarring and brutal.

Demme borrows from the naturalistic Danish Dogma style of film-making, shooting with hand held cameras, creating an intimate home video look.

The only quibble really is that he has a tendency to linger far too long on several scenes - we don't need to hear every guest's toast at the rehearsal dinner - and this style only makes these moments drag longer than normal. But, if you can cope with the shaky camera, you will be rewarded with some strong and impressive performances.

Francesca Rudkin

Cast: Anne Hathaway, Debra Winger

Director: Jonathan Demme

Running time: 113 mins

Rating: M (sex scenes/offensive language)


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Francesca Rudkin is an entertainment reviewer for NZ Herald.

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