Every word, every shot, every sound in Rachel Getting Married—in which Anne Hathaway's Kym gets out of rehab long enough to almost screw up her sister Rachel's wedding—is a fraud. It's hard to think of a more dishonestly manipulative movie this year. Nothing the characters say or do makes sense, because everything they say or do only serves one purpose: to lead to a confrontation or a crisis. Jenny Lumet's hack script throws consistency and psychological realism to the wind just so the actors can get their Oscar moments, while Jonathan Demme still thinks a handheld shakycam is shorthand for raw naturalism, ie authenticity in Hollywoodspeak.
Here's a typical example of the shams the film continually sets up. At one point, several characters including Kym and her dad (Bill Irwin) are gathered around a table, figuring out the sitting arrangements for the wedding. The discussion gets tenser, as it tends to do when Kym is involved; she asks her dad to continue it in private in the kitchen, away from the others. Next thing you know, the entire brood crashes their talk. And next next thing you know, Dad gets challenged by Sidney, his future son-in-law, into a preposterous contest to see who can most efficiently fill the dishwasher. And next next next thing you know, Kym haplessly passes on to Dad a plastic plate belonging to her now-dead little brother, provoking a sorrowful reaction.
Why is the family going to the kitchen after it's been made very clear that Kym and Dad want to have a private conversation? Why is the meek Sidney suddenly Mr. Macho, taunting his father-in-law? Why is the kid's plate still mixed in with the regular plates if it's going to upset the father so much? There's only one reason: to artificially provoke the kind of volatile show-offy situation modern Hollywood mistakes for drama. Rinse, repeat ad nauseam, as Rachel Getting Married staggers from one contrivance to the next.
Perhaps the biggest fraud of all is the reason behind Kym's self-destructiveness: high on percocets when she was 16, she was responsible for the death of the aforementioned younger brother. The death of a child is the kind of unimpeachable backstory Hollywood hacks love because it creates viewer empathy for a character out of thin air. In this case, it's even cheaper than cheap because it isn't even the reason for Kym being the way she is now: the film doesn't address why she was high on percocets to begin with.
As for the wedding itself, you just want to slap everybody involved. So many trite irritants, like, Why does it have an Indian theme when neither of the families seems to have a connection to India? Watching the endless parade of musical guests felt like sitting through an entire year of Joe's Pub programming in 30 minutes. (The one moment that rings true in the movie is when the idiots constantly playing the lute and the violin are asked if they could just stop for a fricking minute.) The film would have been at least bearable if Jonathan Demme had mocked earnestly multi-culti upper-middle-class celebrations. But no.