Rachel Getting Married (15)

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The Independent Culture

I've been to a fair few weddings, and wedding movies, in my time, but I've never seen a movie that has felt so like a wedding as Jonathan Demme's Rachel Getting Married.

The way in which his camera noses through rooms, down corridors, round corners, all in wobbly wedding-video vérité, turns us, the audience, into a guest, one who doesn't quite know anyone's name but feels absolutely enthralled by the unfolding spectacle. The setting is a large family house in middle-class Connecticut, where Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt) is about to be married. The pleasant flurry of nuptial preparations is then invaded by her sister Kym (Anne Hathaway), a recovering junkie out of rehab for the weekend and trailing a notoriety so consuming that she can't even deliver her maid-of-honour speech without turning the occasion into her own psychodrama: "the visiting sociopath", she calls herself.

Demme catches beautifully the tension of the wedding party but also its joy, its camaraderie and, significantly, its music. There's so much of the stuff – blues, samba, hip-hop, folk, jazz, and more – that the film could almost qualify as a musical, and at times its ubiquity gets a little out of hand. I loved the moment during one of the family's increasingly pained rows when Kym, unable to hear herself over the noodlings of the musicians from outside, begs her father to tell them: put a sock in it.

Anne Hathaway closes the Princess Diaries for good with her wired, voluble, vulnerable performance as Kim, so oppressed by her guilt over a long-ago fatal accident that she can't – won't – forgive herself. Her scenes with her mother, marvellously played by Debra Winger, are raw to the touch and deeply truthful in their unresolved anguish. I hope casting directors look at Winger in this movie and realise what they've been missing. Rachel Getting Married has a rollicking, unsteady feel that sometimes gets close to hysteria, a mood which that music tends to egg on. It's Altman-esque, in good and bad ways, though by the end I confess I felt like the traditional mother of the bride, my eyes filling up helplessly even as I begged, "no more".