Last weekend, Netflix brought me what I thought was a gift: Rachel Getting Married. I’d been kicking myself for not catching it in the theater, because it sounded like my kind of movie. Anne Hathaway (gone to the dark side, which is even better), Rosemarie DeWitt, Debra Winger, and an indie feel — what’s not to love?
A lot, as it turns out. The movie is a mess. I’ll gladly echo all the praise for Anne Hathaway, and I hope she has a long career full of complex, slightly dark roles. But the film itself is a blob of family dysfunction that slowly overtook my psyche and made me want to hide in a closet.
Admittedly, I’m not exactly drawn to anything related to the phrase “getting married.” I’m not a fan of weddings — partly because I’m still excluded from that particular rite of passage, but mostly because I don’t like forced family get-togethers generally. And having wallflower tendencies, I simply can’t relate to the whole “Hey, look at me and celebrate my love by ogling my clothes and watching my beloved shove cake into my mouth!” thing. Nor am I gung-ho about marriage generally (the concept, with or without the wedding). So maybe I should have expected Rachel Getting Married to disappoint and confound me.
But I am generally a fan of movies and TV shows that dissect and expose family dysfunction. They can be cathartic, poetic and very moving. Examples: The Squid and the Whale; The Savages; Secrets and Lies; Six Feet Under; The Shining (ha-ha). They can even be hilarious (see The Royal Tenenbaums and Little Miss Sunshine). I guess I need some sort of cinematic structure to rein in all of that amorphous angst. And Rachel Getting Married is so shapeless, I’m not sure it’s really a film. It’s more like an extended home video, crossed with a United Colors of Benetton commercial.
So I’ll console myself the way I always do: by focusing on the lovely, lovely women in the movie.
First, of course, Anne Hathaway. She is so rrowrr with the dark hair.
Next, Rosemarie DeWitt, who seems to be well on her way to specializing in “normal person with crazy sister” roles. I like her more and more every week in The United States of Tara, and I liked her in Rachel Getting Married too. Also, I like her nose (and the fact that she hasn’t done anything with it). And she has a Feist-y quality. Feist meets Paget Brewster, maybe.
Where did she come from, anyway? She seems to have sprung fully formed from obscurity. Her performance in Rachel eclipses Bill Irwin’s, if you ask me — but then, I generally see him as a flurry of tics and grimaces with not much underneath.
Finally, the sublime Debra Winger. When she first appeared on the screen, I gasped. She is aging so very well, and I’ve missed her.
Winger’s part in the film is quite small, but of course she makes the most of it. And (uh, spoiler alert) she gets to give Anne Hathaway a black eye. Woo!
I don’t blame Winger a bit for retreating from acting lately, but for selfish reasons, I hope she takes on a few more choice roles before she retires entirely. She has a big, big gift. (I guess that’s the gift that Netflix brought me.)
And that reminds me: how yummy was Winger in Eulogy, playing gay and playing the piano? Here’s my favorite bit from that one (the “fuck-sing” scene — sorry about the weird crying/coughing at the beginning):
That’s Glenne Headly as the fuck-singee, by the way. Lucky girl. (And yes, Famke Janssen and Kelly Preston also play lesbians in the film. And Zooey Deschanel is in it too, but not so gayly.)
Hey, Eulogy is another family dysfunction flick that I like just fine. Maybe my problem really is the wedding thing — I probably would have loved it if it had been Rachel Getting Buried. After all, I do adore Harold and Maude. Sing out!