Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
USA, 2008. Armian Pictures, Clinica Estetico, Marc Platt Productions. Screenplay by Jenny Lumet. Cinematography by Declan Quinn. Produced by Neda Armian, Jonathan Demme, Marc Platt. Music by Donald Harrison Jr., Zafer Tawil. Production Design by Ford Wheeler. Costume Design by Chryss Hionis. Film Editing by Tim Squyres. Academy Awards 2008. Golden Globe Awards 2008. Gotham Awards 2008. Independent Spirit Awards 2008. National Board of Review Awards 2008. New York Film Critics Awards 2008. Online Film Critics Awards 2008. Toronto International Film Festival 2008. Washington Film Critics Awards 2008.
A former fashion model and junkie (Anne Hathaway) is released from rehab in perfect time to attend her sister’s wedding in Connecticut. Upon arrival she is greeted with hesitation by her sibling (Rosemarie DeWitt) and stepmother (Anna Deavere Smith) but open, optimistic arms by her father (Bill Irwin). Over the course of the next two days, as this hilariously liberal family prepares for an Indian-themed, multiculturally attended and inspired wedding, we begin to understand that this family may be at peace with and in harmony with all the cultures of the world but within itself is in constant turmoil. Hathaway brings with her some family demons that she just can’t help but reintroduce to everyone else, sometimes in spite of herself and sometimes on purpose. This electric film by Jonathan Demme, his best in years, benefits from some incredibly natural performances and a sublime screenplay by Jenny Lumet (Sidney’s daughter). Hathaway is in finer form than she’s ever been, though her performance is still shallow and mannered compared to the astounding work by DeWitt and Irwin, who are virtually undetectable (of course it doesn’t help that, unlike everyone else in the film, Hathaway is famous…then again it also doesn’t help that she didn’t bother to learn how to smoke properly before attempting it on screen). Some might find the many musical sequences pushing the boundaries of their patience, but the scenes of benign entertainment and enjoyment serve well as deceptive comfort zone before the film delves into its snake pit of resentment and retribution.