January 10, 2009

Dennis Dale on "Rachel Getting Married"

Mining my Comments section, here's Dennis Dale's of Untethered's take on the critically-lauded Jonathan Demme movie starring Anne Hathaway, which ends with an interminable wedding celebration featuring various world music acts:

Dennis Dale said...

"Rachel" is an expression of the self-consciousness that is now central to the soluble identity of a certain cultural set, affluent and influential (affluential?) liberal white Americans.

Here we have the most vital expression of any given culture, the marriage ceremony, and it is imagined as a palimpsest featuring any culture but one's own. The effect is not broadening, as they imagine, but deadening.

Toward the end of this interminable mess (how much longer is bad lighting and hand-held cinematography going to pass for naturalistic authenticity with our hopeless critical class?), during the wedding party, after we've been subjected to this calvalcade of pretentious multicultural references, I think they trotted out some mardi gras dancers. I refuse to believe they're not joking.

Think of two classic films--the Godfather and The Deer Hunter--and the remarkable wedding scenes that anchor their first acts, defining a community in a given time and place, and compare them to this film, which expresses nothing so much as the profound lack of confidence that these people brandish as proof of their moral superiority.

Compare those exuberant scenes to the prolonged shambling of this (Robyn Hitchcock and his friggin' lute?! Are you kidding me?!).

And all the scrupulous inclusion only adds up to condescension in the end. Note the black people in the film--smiling caricatures, for all--or because of-- the effort to portray them counter-stereotype. The groom is so well-mannered and mild that he's barely there. And don't get me started on Bill Irwin's interpretation of a kind father as an oozing nipple.

But Anon is wrong--Anne Hathaway rules, freakishly oversized eyes, scrawny neck and all. She superbly portrays youthful self-destruction. They should have done it right--there's no need for a dead sibling back story. People set out to self-destruct for no good reason all the time--and that would have been a fitting synecdoche for the setting of the story, a people self-destructing for no good reason.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ha...a good one THAT. (No, I'm not Scottish, but it's right guud fun to mimic another culture.)

Jim O'Sullivan said...

I didn't know what "palimpsest" meant in that sentence, even after I looked the frickin' word up! What blessed thought did he intend to communicate??

Toronto real estate said...

Excellent movie, maybe the best I have seen in last few months. Anne was perfect, finally no "sweet Hollywood babe". And I loved seeing Debra Winger again!
Maybe one or two Oscars would be nice for this piece...
Regards,
Julie