Friday, November 28, 2008

Movies: Rachel Getting Married

This baggy, scraggly, mopey film reminds me of the baggy, scraggly, mopey teenagers you can usually find at mall food courts. From a distance, or to the uninitiated, there is a flash of something desirable, an artsy pain and edgy fragility particular to girls aged 13-19. Any actual time spent with them, though, reveals the same tedious troubles haunting the girls on the other side of the mall, shopping at Abercrombie and Fitch.

Anne Hathaway, whose charms are consistently lost on me, is surprisingly well-cast as an awkward twenty-something who takes a break from rehab to spend a long weekend at her family compound in hoity-snoity Connecticut. It slowly comes out that Kym (with a “y,” of course, sigh) has been addicted to a variety of drugs since she was a teenager, and that, when left to baby sit her toddling brother Ethan, she drove their car into a river because she was high. He died.

Now her divorced and remarried parents are coming back to the house to see their third child, Rachel, get married. Rachel, the most tedious white girl you have ever seen, is marrying Sidney, the coolest black dude you have ever seen. Supposedly, Rachel and Kym’s father has something to do with the music industry and therefore this liaison makes sense (Sidney, too, has something to do with the music industry).

In fact, the entire movie/weekend is actually just a set piece of hipster porn where upper-class blacks and whites intermingle happily over their shared love of every kind of music, from jazz to indie rock to contemporary chamber to Caribbean electronic. Kym’s brittle moments of nerve-wracking social self-flagellation are washed over by lengthy cuts of people dancing to really good music.

But who wants to watch a movie of people dancing to really good music? If this movie doesn’t totally annoy you, it will only make you jealous—I want to hang out at that party and dance to really good music. (Everyone there, with the exceptions of Rachel and Kym, seems pretty cool, probably too much so to pass the reality test.) The cinematography—random, shaky, handheld—clearly intends to quote the home-movie/“Our Wedding” sensation, so that we in the audience get an ultra-intimate, through-the-keyhole look at the unfolding drama. But: is this a keyhole we even want to look through?

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