Over the last several years, Anne Hathaway has fallen victim to the uncontrollable force of typecasting. Often seen as the young, innocent girl who stepped into the spotlight with 2001's The Princess Diaries, Hathaway's fans have a difficult time accepting her other roles. But now, with her most uncharacteristic role to date, Hathaway proves her talent by portraying Kym, a recovering drug addict in Jonathan Demme's Rachel Getting Married.
The film, which is set over the course of a few days, follows Kym as she returns to her family home for her sister Rachel's wedding. It is meant to be a celebrated reunion, one that will perfect the special day; yet something goes wrong. With her Kym brings a long history of personal crises, attention-getting maneuvers and family conflict, thus creating stress, tension and anger from those around her. As a result, the peaceful wedding turns into a stressful nightmare, forcing Kym has to make a big decision: Should she leave? Or stay to witness her sister's nuptials?
As you can see, the story is quite generic. With little unexpected conflict from either side of the equation, it is not surprising that the film loses its luster towards the end. While it is entertaining, especially to indie movie lovers, there is no 'it' factor to really drive the story home. There is neither a unique plotline nor complex characters. Everything is cut and dry, providing a double edged sword as it allows the audience to understand the characters and story yett fails to intrigue or mesmerize.
This is where Hathaway comes in. By playing Kym, a dark, unflattering character, Hathaway successfully breaks from the mold as she gives one of the most unexpected, yet faultless performances to date. Her emotions, movements and interactions with other characters are perfect as she brings Kym and her struggling self to the forefront, making the wedding serve as a backdrop to her dramatic and often chaotic life. She is neither liked nor respected amongst those who call her family, and through this constant tug-of-war, viewers see Hathaway's true talent rise to the surface, something unseen since 2005's Brokeback Mountain. No longer is Hathaway portraying a sweet, innocent and fragile character. Instead, the presumed persona is replaced with a bad-ass, independent woman who knows what she wants and will stop at nothing to get it.
But Hathaway's performance isn't the only one that creates a stir. Rosemarie Dewitt effectively pulls off the role of Rachel, the bride. Though rarely seen without Hathaway in the picture, Dewitt lights up the screen with her strong-willed nature. She is a free-spirited girl; one who loves her sister and wishes the best for her. But when push comes to shove, she knows how to get dirty. Rachel is a confusing, somewhat complex character, but Dewitt delivers a convincing performance full of wild mood swings and outbursts, creating a character that viewers will love and even relate to.
At its core, Rachel Getting Married is a film about family, conflict and social acceptance. It is a simple story with a unique approach. And with a strong, out-of-the-ordinary performance by Hathaway, and a respectable portrayal from Dewitt, the film is a solid representation of reality. There are no special effects. There is no sudden change of events. Instead, it is an all-too-realistic story about life, love and the events that can alter both.