Rarely has patience been such a virtue than when faced with Rachel Getting Married, which gets off to an extremely rough start before eventually finding its stride. Movies about dysfunctional families -- even dysfunctional families prepping for an upcoming marriage ceremony -- are trotted out by indie-minded filmmakers with alarming regularity, but better to spend some time with Rachel at the wedding than with Margot at the Wedding.
Anne Hathaway, unfairly overlooked in such efforts as Brokeback Mountain and The Devil Wears Prada, commands most of the attention -- from both audience members and the other actors -- as Kym, a recovering drug addict who returns home to attend the wedding of her sister Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt). Kym, who still feels guilty for a past tragedy, is a complete mess: Paradoxically, she's upset when she feels all eyes are on her -- as if everyone's monitoring her to make sure she doesn't do anything destructive -- and equally angered when she feels all eyes aren't on her -- as if her problems shouldn't always automatically make her the center of attention. Naturally, Rachel feels resentment while other family members, including the well-meaning dad (Bill Irwin, excellent) and his icy ex-wife (Debra Winger), are at a loss for how to handle Kym and her frequent outbursts.
Because the characters created by writer Jenny Lumet (Sidney's daughter) are nothing but brittle and bitchy at the start, it takes some time to warm up to these people and their plights (it's impossible, however, to ever warm up to the film's handheld camera technique, which is so 1990s). But Lumet and director Jonathan Demme ask us to respect their characters' space, and this leisurely approach allows us to more fully appreciate and understand the situations at hand. By the end, we're happy to have been invited.