The Edmonton International Film Festival: “Rachel Getting Married”

The Edmonton International Film Festival, arguably the most accessible festival in Edmonton’s catalogue (“we’re going to…a movie”), began last week, screening independent and light-Hollywood films for nine days. I usually take in at least one fairly mainstream movie per festival, and this year was no different.

We chose Rachel Getting Married, an Anne Hathaway-feature that garnered much praise after it screened earlier this fall at the Toronto International Film Festival. After reading the synopsis, I figured the wedding would be simply a backdrop to the real drama, but in actuality, the ceremony and everything that surrounded it (the rehearsal dinner, the reception) was showcased in full glory. This was both a strength and weakness of the film: while the scenes appeared so emotionally genuine (to the point where I wanted to be invited to be a part of the family), I think Mack was right in saying certain scenes could have used more liberal editing (was listening to a dozen rehearsal dinner speeches necessary? Or watching a lengthy dance floor montage?).

The core of the story, however, focused on Hathaway’s character Kym, a young woman returning home from rehab on the occasion of her sister’s marriage. Over the course of the movie, it is revealed that when Kym was sixteen, while high on drugs, ended up causing an accident that killed her younger brother. Each member of the family coped with this tragedy in a different way – Kym with her addiction, Rachel in studying psychology (an area that allows her to learn about human behavior) and the mother with separation and denial. How each member of the family related to each other was fascinating to watch, and in light of all of the wedding fun, I wished for more moments like the quiet one between Rachel and Kym preparing up for the ceremony.

The shaky camera (and seemingly unnecessary close-ups) had thankfully dissipated for the most part by the end of the movie, but I know Mack was happy when the film was over for this reason. While it’s not a must-see, Rachel Getting Married is an interesting window into a fictional family doing its best to move forward from a past tragedy.

The Film Festival runs until Saturday.