Sunday, December 07, 2008

Weddings Not to Crash: Rachel Getting Married

Possible Spoiler (on hover).

I say "possible spoiler" because the plot is essentially revealed in the first shot of the film to anyone paying attention. We then spend two hours dwelling on that obvious point.

The film would be more interesting if the characters were at all sympathetic. Defenders of the film might expect me to empathize with Anne Hathaway's Kym, likely mistaking attraction for empathy. Kym's the fuck-up, which might be endearing to some, because, well, we're all fuck-ups in one way or another. But mere humanity is hardly enough to earn my interest. Ken Lay was a fuck-up, but I'm not on pins and needles for his docudrama.

Characters neither sympathetic, nor entertaining. Add to that a lack of any novel or meaningful message and you get a film that feels purposeless. I suppose you could get a "Don't Do Drugs" message from the film, but the film doubles back on that a few times to appear more nuanced. In shooting for something slightly deeper than an after school special, it somehow misses, and achieves less.

The one interesting part of the film was the setting: a bohemian wedding populated by random musicians, friends of the musician groom to be. I found myself constantly craning my neck to look at what was going on behind the action, ultimately a bad sign for a film.

If there's one major message to take from Rachel Getting Married, it's that handycams are overused. If you want to create the image of documentary honesty, try using craft sometime. Rack focus and call it a day. Maybe shake a camera in the beginning of one shot, to create the illusion of a handycam, without actually ever touching one. You should especially avoid this desperate grab at verite if you're Married to the Mob's Jonathan Demme. Nobody's really buying it from you.

The handycam trend is disturbing, and it's not just limited to Beloved's own Jonathan Demme. It comes off like an Opera singer using Auto Tone or a typograhper using Arial. Auto tone and Arial are both wildly popular. But when a professional uses either technique, it screams at the audience "You aren't worth my time."

Maybe Rachel Getting Married isn't worth yours.