Some will be drawn to the angst and closeted guilt of Anne Hathaway’s character Kym, a portrayal with layers that announces new talent in the starlet. Others will be delighted and taken by Bill Irwin’s equal doses of authenticity and questionable mugging.
Others still might side with the conflicted and forcefully honest sparkplug of the film’s title, conveyed splendidly by Rosemarie Dewitt; or the five or ten minutes Debra Winger gets to step in as an absentee mother before flying off the rails in one of the most painfully unrealistic scenes of the year.
Perhaps the calming presence of Tunde Adebimpe’s groom-to-be Sidney will sooth the soul, however bizarre his coupling seems to be, or the overall zen of Anna Deveare Smith’s alpha female Carol.
Whatever your attraction to the film’s ensemble, the point that should be taken away is how vibrantly Demme has wrought its diversity and thematic purpose throughout. Comparison’s to Noah Baumbach’s “Margot at the Wedding” may be in store, but unlike Baumbach, Demme understand the impact of true realism over a reaching attempt at stylizing it.
Jenny Lumet’s script isn’t as hackneyed as it might be, though it certainly isn’t as complete as it thinks it is. But perhaps that is another important (if tired) artistic point: the episodic nature of family, the ups and downs and how they seem to fade into a cluster of events impossible to distinguish. No grand insightful gestures are made, no sweeping epiphanies of characterization, but Demme brings the appropriate edge and guidance to make it pass for unique.
Despite valiant stands in front of and behind the camera, however, “Rachel” suffers from a screenplay that seems trite when boiled to its essence and leaves no real room for creative expansion. The long-winded scenes, the 30-minute drives with a camera view out the window for that “real life” artsy feel is just getting boring and undermines the cinematography in general. For everything it does right, the film manages to get some things wrong that undermine the film to a degree. The film still retains it is boudoir, but things start to fall out so to speak.