Rachel Getting Married

Rachel Getting Married got to me. I was angered, frustrated, amused and moved, all at once and I cannot attribute the tears rolling down, almost against my will, to any single emotion.  

The lead of the film, Kim (a gaunt Anne Hathaway) is a recovering drug addict back home for her sister, Rachel’s wedding. Kim’s family is dysfunctional- its members are still nursing the pain of a lost baby brother. Kim’s father is worried sick over Kim and anxious about Rachel’s wedding. Kim’s mother (Debra Winger) is still struggling to find a way to fit into the family after her husband’s remarriage. Rachel is sick and tired of being the good daughter waiting in the wings, and just wants the attention to be on her, just this once, just for her wedding, and her single, greatest obstacle is Kim’s insatiable need to be in the limelight.

I truly believe that in an entire course of one’s life, one may eventually and very unfortunately meet a Kim. In fact, I think there could be a Kim in every big family.  Someone who operates on warped logic, who is extremely selfish and wilful, yet who persists in thinking of herself as a victim of circumstances, indulging in self-pity while thriving on the kindness of others. People like Kim are loathsome leeches- they suck the living energy out of those around them and secretly revel in the joy of portraying themselves as tortured souls. They are not evil, just deluded- they are self-centered and pathetic, all the more contemptible because they refuse to see themselves for who they really are.

And as it is with the inexplicable way life tries to form a balanced equation, for every Kim, there is nearly always an over-compensating Rachel, eager-to-please and the real victim who is forced to fit into the uncomfortable and ultimately exhausting shoes of sensibility, kindness and virtue.

Rachel Getting Married can be a tad slow.  For people who have no interest in observing the dynamics of human relationships, Rachel Getting Married might be a huge noisy bore. For people who have yet to meet a Kim, or even a shadow of a Kim in their lives, Rachel Getting Married might be wrongly perceived as a fictitious melodrama.

But nah.

The film, shot almost like a casual home video, is a very realistic portrayal of  the awkwardness of family interactions, what goes on behind closed doors and the less-than-altruistic thoughts which lie in the dark closets of many. Rachel Getting Married disturbs because it gets too intimate for comfort. The cast deserves credit for excellent acting across the board.

If I had to pick something I didn’t like about the film, it would be the complete absence of sniggering relatives/friends gloating, not in another’s misfortune, but rather in the opportunity to gossip, and the well-meaning people who make things worse by saying and doing the wrong things in the name of trying to salvage a bad situation. Every dream set of dysfunctional relationships demand the presence of these characters, no?

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