RACHEL GETTING MARRIED is about a wedding. No, really.

Jokes aside, the movie wants to tell us the point of a wedding. A wedding is more than just a great big party. It’s a chance to gather and surround two people in love with some of the most important things in life: laughter, love, food, music, and family.

Indeed, RACHEL GETTING MARRIED is about a wedding. Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt) is marrying Sidney (Tunde Adebimpe). For the special day, her sister Kym (Anne Hathaway) has been granted leave from her rehab facility. She jokingly refers to herself as “Shiva the destroyer, your harbinger of doom”…though unfortunately, she isn’t terribly far off. While she does very little to be actually disruptive, her very presence brings up unresolved issues for her, Rachel, their father Paul (Bill Irwin), and mother Abby (Debra Winger).

RACHEL GETTING MARRIED is a tender and beautiful film. While some may be off-put by the photography – all of it shot on hand held DV – the decision to film in this manner gives the film a sense of truth. Director Jonathan Demme has created a movie that in many respects feels like a documentary filmed by a guest at this family event. The long takes and the rambling dialogue add to the authenticity, and it all comes together to form a rather honest film.

The movie is a plea for redemption. Though we may not have made the mistakes she made, Kym stands up for anyone who has ever screwed up royally. Though it’s part of her program, she hasn’t yet made amends – possibly because she doesn’t know where to begin. For those of us who’ve stumbled on our life’s journey, she embodies the confusion we face as we try to dust ourselves off and move forward. What’s worse, is that those she has hurt the most and are making her tremble and squirm, are those she loves the most. Her confusion and nervousness when faced with certain judgment is palpable, and familiar. After all, how is one supposed to stand and ask forgiveness, when one hasn’t yet forgiven onesself?

The film is also a story about the importance of family. Watching these people relate to each other at this point in their lives – the difficult junction when everybody is old enough to understand the weight of their actions – is a fable in family bonds. Even the most wholesome-seeming family can have long unspoken, deep running rivers of pain. What the movie tries to tell us, is that we will indeed hurt those closest to us as our life unfolds. It’s how we come together and move forward from the hurt that makes for true family.

After everything, RACHEL GETTING MARRIED is a sweet, and moving lesson. In our lives, family and redemption often go hand in hand. Whether our family is our blood relatives, or those who we’ve grown up with who might as well be blood, they are the ones we all want to lean on most. Sadly, not every family’s dynamic is designed for such support. But for those of us whose family is built that way, every day is a blessing, and an opportunity to seek forgiveness. Even from ourselves.

Matineescore: ★ ★ ★ ★ out of ★ ★ ★ ★
What did you think? Please leave comments with your thoughts and reactions on RACHEL GETTING MARRIED.