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Overstreet

Rachel Getting Married

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One little thought to add to the discussion.

It struck me at some point of my first viewing that this film was a variation on/elaboration of the Prodigal Son parable. Granted there are a LOT of differences but you've got a father and two sons/daughters, one of whom has stayed in good standing with dad and the other who is returning from waywardness. And even though the party is being thrown for the former, she, Rachel, her attitude initially seems very similar to that of the older brother.

Rachel Getting Married replaces the abundantly magnanimous father with an imperfect but loving one and it explores sibling reconciliation where the parable is silent (because it ends).

I'm not suggesting that the director or writers set out to make a Prodigal Son movie; I was just struck by the similarities and appreciated the concrete details and complexities of RGM alongside the characteristic simplicity of the parable.

(For the record, I LOVED the move)

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It really strikes the right note of a family with an addict. I thought it was also worth noting that at the 12 step meeting, Kym says she's been clean for nine months -- she never uses the word sober. She really is a dry drunk.

A nit: AA and NA use different terminology to describe the experience of "not using." AA prefers the term "sober"; NA prefers the term "clean." Since Kym is a drug addict, it would make sense that she would show up at NA meetings and use the word "clean." It doesn't necessarily imply that she is a "dry drunk" or someone about to use again, although, given her character, she certainly might be.

That said, I certainly love this movie. It was a beautiful and painful film.

Edited by Andy Whitman

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Got a quick, stupid question for those who have seen this movie.

My rental DVD skipped near the very end... six minutes left. It was at the point that Kym's car was driving away, with Rachel looking on.

Please PM me if anything else happened after that moment. Thank you.

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A beautiful closing credits sequence, with music provided by the band in the backyard, and Rachel relaxing with her husband, if I recall. That's a shame about the DVD. I hate that, and I can sympathize. My Ladyhawke DVD craps out right at the moment when Navarre and Isabeau embrace at the end.

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Out of all the movies I've seen from this award season, this was really high up. Kate Winslet had a "brave" role in The Reader, I guess because of all the nudity. But she's no stranger to that and through the rest of the film she was kind of wooden. Anne Hathaway was good in this. Best Actress good? I don't know, but she would have been a better choice than Winslet.

I was going to say I liked this most of all the Oscar films, but then I remembered how much I liked Slumdog Millionaire. This was really good, though. Great use of music throughout, and multiple great performances. It was beautiful, with this lovely, damaged family trying to get through their happiest time while they still haven't dealt with their past completely. No resolution... the problems are still there but we feel they can finally overcome them through their love for one another.

Technically it was interesting with all the handheld and stedicam work. Very intimate photography for a very intimate movie. I'm not sure I can think of a "wedding film" I liked more.

Still, no English subtitles on the DVD is a failure of epic proportions and it angers me that in 2009 anyone even *thinks* about releasing a DVD without subtitles. The soundtrack for this one, though, could be great.

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After reading through the thread....

The critiques about reverse racism for this film are ridiculous. It was a portrayal of people who, unlike most of the United States, aren't racist. They accept the merging of these two families as a beautiful thing. It was something that we could all take a lesson from. It was about treating people as people and not as members of a specific race. (Come to think of it... I wonder if this is one reason it reminded me of Secrets and Lies, though.)

I did think of the "connection" to Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. But it wasn't the focus of the film. People suggesting that the point of this film is to show that black people don't have problems have totally missed it. vjmorton's rebuttal about this was great, even though we disagreed a lot on Doubt. :)

The pasted portion of Nicolosi's review... shameful. And Anne Hathaway's haircut was fine; she was predictably beautiful in this. If you want to see her with a bad haircut, watch The Devil Wears Prada.

Regarding the wedding, I thought the vows were a little hollow and the wedding itself was a little weird. I believe the phrase I used was "loony artisan wedding", but I liked these people anyway. They're entitled to have whatever wedding they see fit, and I'm entitled to not be distracted by it and let it monopolize discussion about this film for me, since it's such a ridiculous thing to quibble about.

Great point about the diegetic music. They even poked fun at it in the film... it was really very well used.

Edited by theoddone33

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theoddone33 wrote:

: The critiques about reverse racism for this film are ridiculous. It was a portrayal of people who, unlike most of the United States, aren't racist.

I dunno about that. Essential to the hipster identity of these characters is the fact that they "collect" artifacts of as many races and cultures as possible. It is not so much that they are blind to race and culture as that they make a point of seeking it out, partly perhaps to perpetuate their sense that they are "unlike most of the United States".

Agreed, though, that this film isn't particularly interested in making a point about black people, per se. (Though that's not to say that the film doesn't reflect a certain sensibility in its treatment of them.) The film's concerns are much broader than that.

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theoddone33 wrote:

: The critiques about reverse racism for this film are ridiculous. It was a portrayal of people who, unlike most of the United States, aren't racist.

I dunno about that. Essential to the hipster identity of these characters is the fact that they "collect" artifacts of as many races and cultures as possible. It is not so much that they are blind to race and culture as that they make a point of seeking it out, partly perhaps to perpetuate their sense that they are "unlike most of the United States".

Perhaps you're right, but I'm not sure their intentions matter here... even if it's just nonconformity for its own sake, it was great. I felt it was a very optimistic treatment of race relations overall, so it's frustrating to see it held up as a negative example by some ostensibly well respected critics outside this circle. I mean, if I brought home a black fianc

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I know people whose homes are full of souvenirs from their travels and encounters with different cultures. We might assume that they're just "hipsters." But I know that those items are meaningful to them, and that they genuinely appreciate the art and styles of other cultures. I don't have foreign films in my library to be cool. I bought them because they're important films for me. It seemed to me that Rachel's family loved people. I need to see it again, but what gives anybody the idea that they "collect artifacts of as many races and cultures as possible" in order to "perpetuate their sense that they are unlike most of the United States"? Am I forgetting something?

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Overstreet wrote:

: I know people whose homes are full of souvenirs from their travels and encounters with different cultures.

... and who make a point of appropriating aspects of those cultures and turning weddings and other occasions into superficial pastiches of those cultures?

Not that I necessarily have anything against appropriating aspects of other cultures. My friends and I say "Oy vey" all the time even though we're not Jewish. But it's partly a question not just of what these characters do when the camera isn't looking, but how the film frames their activities. To quote from vjmorton's review:

It

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Hmm... I just recently saw this and felt like it was worth discussing, but realize from looking through this thread that I'm like a guy showing up late to a restaurant and then hoping someone feels like sticking around while I eat. Heh, maybe someone can find something here for dessert...

First, I've got to say that Hathaway's performance was really, really good. She deserved all the accolades she received. I'd seen Rosemarie DeWitt before in a few tv series: Mad Men (pretty good) and the short-lived Standoff (not so good), but was still very impressed with her as well. I was also really impressed in a few places with how intentionally awkward Demme was able to make me feel, like during Kym's toast at the rehearsal dinner scene. I already really found myself liking Kym, and wanted her to prove everyone wrong, so when she gave that excruciatingly self-serving toast it was just painful to watch. I'd say in general the entire A storyline was really effective. Only complaint there was that certain scenes seemed to drag. on. forever. Witness the rehearsal dinner scene again. Come to think of it, almost every scene seemed to drag on forever. I suppose the fact that I felt connected to that storyline in spite of that recurring frustration says something.

But.

I really, really disliked the rest of the film, and for reasons largely related to the issues of multiculturalism that have already been brought up. Maybe it's not worth rehashing for anyone else, but reading through the comments so far, I haven't seen a POV that really seemed to address this in the way that I experienced it. A few friends I saw this with seemed to think I was reacting against the idea of multiculturalism or inclusiveness itself, but this isn't it. I've lived in big cities for most of my life, and I'm thoroughly familiar with the idea of melting pot communities. It's also not about some idea of reverse-racism. I didn't even notice that only the white people seemed to have problems until I read that in this thread. Though I did find the fiance character to be one of the most obscenely dull characters to ever share the screen in such a character-driven film. I *honestly* thought at one point during the film that maybe he was meant to be somewhat retarded. And therein lies an example of what I disliked thoroughly about the film. I really believed that he might be retarded because it seemed like surely the filmmakers wouldn't have left retarded people out of their Inclusive Nirvanaland.

It's not hard for me to believe that people have friends from diverse cultures, or that people enjoy or appreciate a range of cultural goods or traditions. But the community shown in this film does. not. exist. Not like it was portrayed here. Not somewhere in Connecticut with no backstory to explain it. There was nothing remotely believable about it. It stood out like such a sore thumb, that the movie became just as much *about* that as it was about the story itself.

Okay, so what's wrong with that? Nothing, if the movie admits that it's about that, and deals with it. Examine why it isn't normal, or why it should be, or what the challenges and benefits of it are. But it was ignored so thoroughly, so completely, so universally, that I never truly felt that these characters inhabited this universe - I felt that the filmmakers had fabricated a universe that they were holding up proudly for me to see and envy. I don't believe the family was sitting around working the seating arrangement around Kym, I believe they were trying to solve the No-Two-People-Of-The-Same-Ethnicity-Can-Sit-Next-To-Each-Other dilemma. I'm pretty sure when Kym got a sad face toward the end of the dancing scene at the reception, it was because she had just realized that there weren't any Eskimos in attendance.

Someone earlier suggested that it wasn't necessarily clear that the film was celebrating this multicultural nirvana. I don't think it could have been more clear that that was the intention. Every joyful moment in the film was seeped in it. And when the mother of the groom stood and commented that this was like a rehearsal for heaven, I didn't hear a character expressing her heart, I heard a filmmaker yelling through a bullhorn.

I didn't dislike the characters individually, I simply disliked the falseness the filmmakers surrounded them in. Maybe there are people who would decide to have an Indian elephant cake at their wedding, even though they're not Indian, have never been to India as far as we know, and don't seem to have any Indian friends. Probably not many, but maybe a few. I don't believe for a second that not a single one of the wedding guests would ask why the *hell* they chose it though. I want to know that as a viewer. Show me how this community came to be, or why they would want an Indian elephant cake, because that's a interesting freaking choice, and it expects an explanation. Otherwise, I don't buy it at all, and I think you're only putting it there to make a point.

(Oh, and I also *really* could have done without the dogme-style insistence on only "sourced" music. If you want me to accept that these are real people with real lives at a real wedding, having a dude whip out his violin to provide accompaniment during a dishwasher loading competition ain't the way to go. Was there any benefit to doing the music this way, beyond the simple novelty of it?)

And if no one feels like talking about any of that, I noticed that no one has mentioned the choice to let the camera guys roam freely in the background in multiple scenes. Did I miss the part where they explained that the wedding was being filmed by a documentary crew (made up entirely of young white males)?

What's that? No one's reading this thread anymore? Ah well...

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Interesting how polarizing this film seems to be. I saw this for the first time last night and I have to say that I did not feel as though I was being propagandized for some political vision or implausible ideal of community. I detest having my face rubbed in condescending faux multiculturalism as much as anyone but I did not sense that here. Having read through this thread prior to viewing the film, I was prepared for that sort of condescension, but my experience was nothing of the sort. I felt as though I was given the privilege of an invitation to a joyous wedding.

I have been pondering why that is my experience. First of all, I have no real confidence in my ability to ascertain the relative plausibility of any given community's existence. It is hard enough to judge the narrative plausibility of individual characters, let alone whole communities. In the particular context of Rachel Getting Married, the main reason why I have no trouble venturing into the givenness of this community is that to me marriage is the great garden of exotic possibility. Every wedding I have ever known has been extraordinarily diverse in its own way, and I am no urbanite hipster. Maybe it is unlikely that such and such a combination of various communities would converge in Rachel's wedding; but then to me marriage itself is among the unlikeliest of felicities, the most expansive of ecosystems. Marriage, which has a way of exposing sides of people and branches of their relationships we might never have otherwise seen or even imagined, is utterly surprising to me--and yet it is real. And the miracle is that much more extravagent in the context of brokenness and darkness that envelopes this particular family. So it would take a lot more than an unlikely cake for me to resent the implausibility of it all.

None of that takes away from the well-founded if obvious criticisms of cultural rootlessness on display. The body of Christ is the most diverse body in the world, and this family falls well short of that, as families generally do. But it seems to me that there is a tribute to rootedness here, however unwitting it may be. Perhaps the filmmakers did in fact mean to make diversity an end in itself. But I am not quite sure how it is possible to know that, especially on the film's own terms. Rachel Getting Married does not seem interested in splitting people into winners and losers, heroes and villains. That is true from the smallest arguments to the more ferocious fights. Thus I find it hard to believe (implausible, I might say!) that a film which pays such honor to the complexity of human relationships would do so only to try and hammer home some clearcut message. But I've been wrong before.

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Thanks. That was my experience of it as well. I found it refreshingly un-preachy. And I've heard plenty of people plan parties, and even weddings, before in which they chose a particular style because it meant something to them, or even just because they were feeling theatrical and wanted a dramatic or colorful theme. I'm not saying that's how *I* would have done it. But I had no trouble believing that's what these people would do.

However unlikely it might have been, I was moved by the whole colorful event.

I never once felt that the wedding was some kind of Statement By the Filmmaker, but rather an expression of a very unusual match. Rachel is clearly interested in other cultures and adventurous living. I didn't find Sidney dull either... just withdrawn, private. His love for Rachel seemed warm and genuine. I had no trouble suspending my disbelief in this movie.

Wish I could find it: I remember reading an article about how much of this film was drawn from the filmmakers' personal experiences. Perhaps part of the storytelling was drawn from an actual event. It certainly had a convincing particularity for this viewer anyway.

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I really, really disliked the rest of the film, and for reasons largely related to the issues of multiculturalism that have already been brought up. Maybe it's not worth rehashing for anyone else, but reading through the comments so far, I haven't seen a POV that really seemed to address this in the way that I experienced it. A few friends I saw this with seemed to think I was reacting against the idea of multiculturalism or inclusiveness itself, but this isn't it. I've lived in big cities for most of my life, and I'm thoroughly familiar with the idea of melting pot communities. It's also not about some idea of reverse-racism. I didn't even notice that only the white people seemed to have problems until I read that in this thread. Though I did find the fiance character to be one of the most obscenely dull characters to ever share the screen in such a character-driven film. I *honestly* thought at one point during the film that maybe he was meant to be somewhat retarded. And therein lies an example of what I disliked thoroughly about the film. I really believed that he might be retarded because it seemed like surely the filmmakers wouldn't have left retarded people out of their Inclusive Nirvanaland.

Ah, well, I was familiar with the actor/artist who plays the main character, in fact he plays in one of my favourite bands and produced one of my favourite albums of last year. So I didn't find him dull at all (plus, the "dishwasher" scene is so great, how could you think this?). I wonder if that played in my own reaction at all. Still, I'm not sure what aspect of his character you felt made him seem "retarded," other than that he is a quiet musician type. Care to explain more specifically? Also, the fact that most of the "retarded" people I've met are far from "obscenely dull." I can't believe this statement has gotten away unchallenged thus far. I strikes me as in pretty bad taste.

It's not hard for me to believe that people have friends from diverse cultures, or that people enjoy or appreciate a range of cultural goods or traditions. But the community shown in this film does. not. exist. Not like it was portrayed here. Not somewhere in Connecticut with no backstory to explain it. There was nothing remotely believable about it. It stood out like such a sore thumb, that the movie became just as much *about* that as it was about the story itself.

Ok, it didn't feel real to you. You didn't believe it. But please be careful of making such an absolute statement like you did here. I think you might be shocked, but I totally bought it. I've had friends in communities like this one (and I guess been a part of them). It didn't stick out like a sore thumb to me. In fact, I never realized people would react so strongly to that aspect until reading over this thread. Not just your comments, but others.

(Oh, and I also *really* could have done without the dogme-style insistence on only "sourced" music. If you want me to accept that these are real people with real lives at a real wedding, having a dude whip out his violin to provide accompaniment during a dishwasher loading competition ain't the way to go. Was there any benefit to doing the music this way, beyond the simple novelty of it?)

I disagreed. I really liked this part of it, especially since so many of the supporting actors were musicians, it made sense to me. As a former wedding DJ, I also know that of all the movies where you're going to use "sourced" music, a wedding movie perhaps makes the most sense of any. Most weddings are FILLED with music. Why not take advantage of it, as it tells you a lot about the characters.

Also, many members of my wife's extended family are musicians, and it just wouldn't be a family get together without someone on the piano or playing the violin (my wife's young cousin is a prodigy! No exaggeration. He doesn't go many places without it). So that seemed pretty "real" to me too.

However unlikely it might have been, I was moved by the whole colorful event.

I never once felt that the wedding was some kind of Statement By the Filmmaker, but rather an expression of a very unusual match. Rachel is clearly interested in other cultures and adventurous living. I didn't find Sidney dull either... just withdrawn, private. His love for Rachel seemed warm and genuine. I had no trouble suspending my disbelief in this movie.

Wish I could find it: I remember reading an article about how much of this film was drawn from the filmmakers' personal experiences. Perhaps part of the storytelling was drawn from an actual event. It certainly had a convincing particularity for this viewer anyway.

Amen.

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Personally, I didn't find the film "preachy", per se. That would suggest a level of awareness that there are people out there in the audience who are not as hipsterish as the filmmakers and their characters. As I saw it, the movie simply ASSUMES a hipsterish worldview -- and I'm fine with that. It doesn't make the characters particularly likable, but fortunately we can relate to them on other levels too.

If you want "preachy", see The Visitor.

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Thanks. That was my experience of it as well. I found it refreshingly un-preachy. And I've heard plenty of people plan parties, and even weddings, before in which they chose a particular style because it meant something to them, or even just because they were feeling theatrical and wanted a dramatic or colorful theme. I'm not saying that's how *I* would have done it. But I had no trouble believing that's what these people would do.
I think maybe if they had at least made *some* reference to the choices being made, some hint at the motivation or desires involved, it would have helped. As it is, the only way (that I can remember) that you could see Rachel as the kind of person who would make those kind of choices is by using the choices themselves as your evidence. I especially don't remember anything about Rachel whatsoever that would even hint at the choices being a true reflection of who she is. Again, other than the specific wedding choices themselves.

However unlikely it might have been, I was moved by the whole colorful event.
That was the problem for me. I wanted to be moved, but I was too distracted by what felt like an overwhelming falseness, at least as it relates to the wedding celebration. I *was* moved by the primary characters and their interactions with Kym. Severely dysfunctional, all, but believable and heartbreaking.

I never once felt that the wedding was some kind of Statement By the Filmmaker, but rather an expression of a very unusual match. Rachel is clearly interested in other cultures and adventurous living. I didn't find Sidney dull either... just withdrawn, private. His love for Rachel seemed warm and genuine. I had no trouble suspending my disbelief in this movie.
I don't believe the whole movie is a Statement. There were specific times I felt it was a making a statement (like the comment at the rehearsal dinner). More often I agree with Peter that the movie assumes a worldview, and in my opinion an incredibly idealistic one. Maybe part of what makes it stand out so awkwardly is the level of idealism in a film with such a pessimistic lead story.

Wish I could find it: I remember reading an article about how much of this film was drawn from the filmmakers' personal experiences. Perhaps part of the storytelling was drawn from an actual event. It certainly had a convincing particularity for this viewer anyway.
Hmm. This makes me think of Facing the Giants, where the filmmakers tried to deflect criticism about the "God fixes everything" theology by claiming that all of the events in the film had really happened to people in their church. Well, yeah, but people also got cancer, and divorced, and lost their jobs...

I really, really disliked the rest of the film, and for reasons largely related to the issues of multiculturalism that have already been brought up. Maybe it's not worth rehashing for anyone else, but reading through the comments so far, I haven't seen a POV that really seemed to address this in the way that I experienced it. A few friends I saw this with seemed to think I was reacting against the idea of multiculturalism or inclusiveness itself, but this isn't it. I've lived in big cities for most of my life, and I'm thoroughly familiar with the idea of melting pot communities. It's also not about some idea of reverse-racism. I didn't even notice that only the white people seemed to have problems until I read that in this thread. Though I did find the fiance character to be one of the most obscenely dull characters to ever share the screen in such a character-driven film. I *honestly* thought at one point during the film that maybe he was meant to be somewhat retarded. And therein lies an example of what I disliked thoroughly about the film. I really believed that he might be retarded because it seemed like surely the filmmakers wouldn't have left retarded people out of their Inclusive Nirvanaland.

Ah, well, I was familiar with the actor/artist who plays the main character, in fact he plays in one of my favourite bands and produced one of my favourite albums of last year. So I didn't find him dull at all (plus, the "dishwasher" scene is so great, how could you think this?). I wonder if that played in my own reaction at all. Still, I'm not sure what aspect of his character you felt made him seem "retarded," other than that he is a quiet musician type. Care to explain more specifically? Also, the fact that most of the "retarded" people I've met are far from "obscenely dull." I can't believe this statement has gotten away unchallenged thus far. I strikes me as in pretty bad taste.

Let's please not read a more offensive motivation into the statement than what's already there. Once we got further into the film (certainly by before the dishwasher scene) I had abandoned that line of thought. But for a significant length of time earlier in the film, Syndey is such a part an uninvolved part of the scenery (especially for such a key role) that he seems to almost not react to what's going on around him. In any other film, I don't think the question would've even come up, but for a movie where I already felt like No One Is Left Out, I did wonder if maybe that's where the film was ultimately going to lead with that character - some sort of mild retardation that made him react a little more simply to the events around him. It's a statement about the movie, not about retarded people.

It's not hard for me to believe that people have friends from diverse cultures, or that people enjoy or appreciate a range of cultural goods or traditions. But the community shown in this film does. not. exist. Not like it was portrayed here. Not somewhere in Connecticut with no backstory to explain it. There was nothing remotely believable about it. It stood out like such a sore thumb, that the movie became just as much *about* that as it was about the story itself.

Ok, it didn't feel real to you. You didn't believe it. But please be careful of making such an absolute statement like you did here. I think you might be shocked, but I totally bought it. I've had friends in communities like this one (and I guess been a part of them). It didn't stick out like a sore thumb to me. In fact, I never realized people would react so strongly to that aspect until reading over this thread. Not just your comments, but others.

What absolute statement are you referring to? That it wasn't believable? I'm assuming that however absolute a statement like that might sound, it's still clear that it's very much my own opinion. In that context, I don't see exactly what you're saying I need to "be careful" about. I just don't feel like qualifying every comment I have about a movie with "in my opinion..." or "if you ask me..."

(Oh, and I also *really* could have done without the dogme-style insistence on only "sourced" music. If you want me to accept that these are real people with real lives at a real wedding, having a dude whip out his violin to provide accompaniment during a dishwasher loading competition ain't the way to go. Was there any benefit to doing the music this way, beyond the simple novelty of it?)

I disagreed. I really liked this part of it, especially since so many of the supporting actors were musicians, it made sense to me. As a former wedding DJ, I also know that of all the movies where you're going to use "sourced" music, a wedding movie perhaps makes the most sense of any. Most weddings are FILLED with music. Why not take advantage of it, as it tells you a lot about the characters.

Also, many members of my wife's extended family are musicians, and it just wouldn't be a family get together without someone on the piano or playing the violin (my wife's young cousin is a prodigy! No exaggeration. He doesn't go many places without it). So that seemed pretty "real" to me too.

My question is still why? What does the film gain by not using soundtrack music, especially given how far out of its way it has to go to achieve this. It's kind of like a 5-minute long tracking shot in a film that doesn't have any purpose other than to be a 5-minute long tracking shot. Why not use it when it makes sense, and not when it doesn't (the dishwasher scene, for example). What do you lose other than the novelty of it?

I think if the film hadn't felt like it had so much potential to me, I wouldn't have been as disappointed by it. As it was, I felt like the setting and community detracted from what was otherwise a very good story. Come to think of it, there might have been some very interesting themes to examine in how people could be so accepting and open and appreciative of everyone *except* for their immediately family members; how such a thoroughly dysfunctional family could be so thoroughly functional with the rest of the community.

Hmm... Noticing that no one has commented on the cameramen in the shots yet. As that was another thing that just seemed to constantly take me out of the story, I'm wondering if no one else experienced that? If not, why do you think that is?

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But the community shown in this film does. not. exist. Not like it was portrayed here. Not somewhere in Connecticut with no backstory to explain it. There was nothing remotely believable about it. It stood out like such a sore thumb, that the movie became just as much *about* that as it was about the story itself.

It was all a bit artificial, and the film loses traction pretty quickly in the lack of backstory for all these elements. On the other hand, many Americans really do live in this kind of artifice on a daily basis for no apparent reason other than some inclination towards mulitcultural trends. For lack of any other more substantial religious tradition, this kind of artifice is an easy backdoor into American civil religion, and it may be that this family has chosen this tack for a similar reason. What is their alternative? Pottery Barn? A giant white cake with a plastic bride and groom statue on top? Mint Julips?

I don't like this kind of faux multiculturalism, but I can understand where it comes from.

Eskimos in attendance.

They prefer Inuit.

The body of Christ is the most diverse body in the world, and this family falls well short of that, as families generally do. But it seems to me that there is a tribute to rootedness here, however unwitting it may be. Perhaps the filmmakers did in fact mean to make diversity an end in itself.

Here is where I part ways with this kind of community and rootedness. Christianity is not on a mission of community, it is a community on a mission. Community as an end in itself is a shell game.

Which is the reason I actually like this film. It has all these elements of faux community displayed by a family that is truly desperate to cling together, to wade through life together, and even to celebrate together. Alongside this documentation of all the external trappings of their effort is this girl with serious substance abuse issues, who needs precisely this sort of family to get back on her feet. I am not sure what experience Demme has with substance abuse and rehab, but Kym is a note perfect portrayal of someone in and out of rehab, grimacing through meetings, and finally starting to sort out all the shame. There is nothing inauthentic about that character at all, even down to some very specific vocabulary that is common for institutionalized people getting their feet wet in NA or AA.

Which I think demonstrates that Demme isn't shallow. He doesn't have a problem with creating very rounded characters with complex issues. So what if Kym's sad authenticity and what we perceive as faux-community within the family are meant to contrast with each other? This family has already been through difficult circumstances, but the eventual reconcilation between Kym and the family may be the event that creates the actual family/community that they have always maintained in form. It takes these hard times to make our relationships real - or grant the symbols we use to identify our communities meaning.

Edited by MLeary

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Here is where I part ways with this kind of community and rootedness. Christianity is not on a mission of community, it is a community on a mission. Community as an end in itself is a shell game.

Which is the reason I actually like this film. It has all these elements of faux community displayed by a family that is truly desperate to cling together, to wade through life together, and even to celebrate together. Alongside this documentation of all the external trappings of their effort is this girl with serious substance abuse issues, who needs precisely this sort of family to get back on her feet. I am not sure what experience Demme has with substance abuse and rehab, but Kym is a note perfect portrayal of someone in and out of rehab, grimacing through meetings, and finally starting to sort out all the shame. There is nothing inauthentic about that character at all, even down to some very specific vocabulary that is common for institutionalized people getting their feet wet in NA or AA.

Which I think demonstrates that Demme isn't shallow. He doesn't have a problem with creating very rounded characters with complex issues. So what if Kym's sad authenticity and what we perceive as faux-community within the family are meant to contrast with each other? This family has already been through difficult circumstances, but the eventual reconcilation between Kym and the family may be the event that creates the actual family/community that they have always maintained in form. It takes these hard times to make our relationships real - or grant the symbols we use to identify our communities meaning.

Yes, although I'm not sure I would call it faux community. At the very least, it's the kind of forced community that one finds at weddings and funerals, which, if it is not exactly true to day-to-day life, is at least a pseudo-community on its (theoretical) best behavior. And that's what generates the tension in the film, in my opinion. I will confess that I don't fully understand the protests about the stilted community. Of course it's a stilted community. It's a wedding, and people from various backgrounds are thrown together. That's the way it often works. And Kym crashes into this forced camaraderie in all her messiness and neediness, and doesn't play, and probably can't play, by the rules. I agree that there is absolutely nothing inauthentic about Kym's character. She is the most honest and real person in the film, albeit certainly the most broken character as well. This is a fairy tale with a brokedown princess. And the idyllic community shown among the members of the wedding party is part of the fairy tale. I'm convinced that the contrast is quite deliberate, and that Kym may be part of Rachel's salvation from the fairy tale, just as Rachel is part of Kym's salvation from her past.

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Christianity is not on a mission of community, it is a community on a mission. Community as an end in itself is a shell game.

I concur.

Of course it's a stilted community. It's a wedding, and people from various backgrounds are thrown together. That's the way it often works. And Kym crashes into this forced camaraderie in all her messiness and neediness, and doesn't play, and probably can't play, by the rules. I agree that there is absolutely nothing inauthentic about Kym's character. She is the most honest and real person in the film, albeit certainly the most broken character as well. This is a fairy tale with a brokedown princess. And the idyllic community shown among the members of the wedding party is part of the fairy tale. I'm convinced that the contrast is quite deliberate, and that Kym may be part of Rachel's salvation from the fairy tale, just as Rachel is part of Kym's salvation from her past.

Well said.

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And the idyllic community shown among the members of the wedding party is part of the fairy tale. I'm convinced that the contrast is quite deliberate, and that Kym may be part of Rachel's salvation from the fairy tale, just as Rachel is part of Kym's salvation from her past.

Yes, faux may be the wrong qualifier. Because it is a community, or a gathering, or an extended family, regardless of how we judge the ways by which they have chosen to arrange themselves. "Faux" is more of a judgement call than I was wanting to make.

The above is very well put. Demme deals well with this tension between Rachel and Kym. They need each other, they both have some specific meaure of healing that can be shared. Substance abuse makes for relational fractures with very messy edges, especially between brothers and sisters. I can't think of a film that has shown this as effectively.

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MattP wrote:

: Hmm... Noticing that no one has commented on the cameramen in the shots yet.

I don't even remember this element, but since you asked... If this was during the wedding, I would assume they had a video crew filming it for them. If it wasn't... then I guess this, like the consistently diegetic music, is another thing that this film has in common with the Dogme95 films.

MLeary wrote:

: : Eskimos in attendance.

:

: They prefer Inuit.

The Canadian Eskimos do. Apparently the American Eskimos don't, necessarily, because some of them are non-Inuit. (Or so I was informed when Sarah Palin ran for VP and I began reading articles on why it was okay to refer to her husband as "half-Eskimo".)

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Let's please not read a more offensive motivation into the statement than what's already there. Once we got further into the film (certainly by before the dishwasher scene) I had abandoned that line of thought. But for a significant length of time earlier in the film, Syndey is such a part an uninvolved part of the scenery (especially for such a key role) that he seems to almost not react to what's going on around him. In any other film, I don't think the question would've even come up, but for a movie where I already felt like No One Is Left Out, I did wonder if maybe that's where the film was ultimately going to lead with that character - some sort of mild retardation that made him react a little more simply to the events around him. It's a statement about the movie, not about retarded people.

I guess that was a knee-jerk reaction to your comment, but I guess I was shocked that someone would feel that way about the movie. I just didn't see the film as being THAT artificial.

What absolute statement are you referring to? That it wasn't believable? I'm assuming that however absolute a statement like that might sound, it's still clear that it's very much my own opinion. In that context, I don't see exactly what you're saying I need to "be careful" about. I just don't feel like qualifying every comment I have about a movie with "in my opinion..." or "if you ask me..."

Admittedly again, I guess I misread you. I felt that your statement was a categorical rejection of anyone finding the film "believable." I would argue seriously with your impression, but MLeary and Andy have made my knee jerk ramblings feel a little immature.

I wish I had more time to really delve into film, but in the end I get a lot more out of reading than I do out of participating in these kinds of conversations, since I tend to get really defensive about films I liked.[/threadjack]

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I wish I had more time to really delve into film, but in the end I get a lot more out of reading than I do out of participating in these kinds of conversations, since I tend to get really defensive about films I liked.[/threadjack]
I understand. If someone were to say anything bad about The Three Amigos, I'd find a way to reach through the computer and punch them in the face.

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