Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Rachel Getting Married

It's funny to hear people talk about Rachel Getting Married as Jonathan Demme's comeback: I might have enjoyed the film a lot more if I wasn't familiar with his work. Neil Young, Robyn Hitchcock, Sister Carol and that cross-eyed dude could have come off as inspired quirk rather than self-parody. I might have even credited the wedding's cultural mishmash (like Janeane Garofalo watching Speed, I kept waiting for an Eskimo with a spear) to the underwritten characters ("a bunch of virtuous, good-hearted people who will manage to work out all of their problems, live happily ever after, and vote for Obama," Village Voice), rather than the director. But with no explanation provided, I had blame the film's multi-culti madness on Demme, whose tastes I know more about than Rachel's.

If I wasn't familiar with Melvin And Howard and Married To The Mob, it might not depress me that the director uses cinema verite to cloak the Lifetime melodrama in Jenny Lumet's script - don't give away the shocking family trauma, viewers, or your friends may not enjoy piecing together the clues! My disappointment with Demme is what keeps me from pondering quality performances like Debra Winger's detached mom (even more impressive when you know how easily she can seduce an audience) and instead grumbling about how she's used for a cheap "fight the real enemy," Ordinary People climax. It's hard to accept how dishonest and lazy he can be when ostensibly set free.

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