Another wedding film staring Anne Hathaway? Is this the same as last week? Does a robot-faced blonde show up to try and scupper lovely Anne’s wedding plans with hilarious japes and photo montages? I think not. In fact, our lovely Anne isn’t even dressing up as a princess. This time she is Acting. That’s right. She smokes cigarettes and has bad hair and cries. A lot. If she filmed Bride Wars after this then it explains a lot – Bride Wars must have been a relaxing break after staring in this one.
Hathaway plays Kym, a recovering drug addict released from rehab to attend her big sister’s wedding (that’d be Rachel). Before you can say “dysfunctional” the family arguments kick off big-style, as details of Kym’s turbulent and tragic past unfold and her rollercoaster moods ricochet off her sister’s temper. Director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia) goes for a documentary approach, following characters around with hand-held cameras and allowing actors to talk over each other, giving it a very natural feel.
The actors excel in this realistic setting, Hathaway rightly Oscar nominated for her performance as the troubled, bratty and grieving Kym, while her co-stars (particularly Rosemarie DeWitt as Rachel) provide a blanket of emotion, either through jealous sister, mental father or withdrawn mother. When the drama crackles, it really crackles, with fierce battles erupting in between barbed comments and pained glances.
Unfortunately it all becomes a little too realistic. If you’ve ever been forced to watch someone’s wedding video you’ll know the tedium of the endless speeches, or the banality of watching other people enjoying the evening entertainment. For some reason, Demme decided that to add authenticity we should literally observe Rachel getting married, in all its uncut, unnecessary glory. And so we have a third of this film being an absorbing, well acted family drama. And two thirds someone’s poorly shot wedding video, before the editor has got to it.
Ultimately, despite the fancy pants way this film is put across, the plot is too thin. Drug addicts, family feuds, weddings… all seem a bit too familiar, and the flowery ending prompts the question “and the point was…?” It does get points for creating a sense of friendship and warmth, and for the first and only funny dishwasher loading scene, but overall it is one of those films where style takes over from substance and the film tucks itself up its own bottom too far to notice the plot slipping out the back of the trousers. So to speak. It’s proven Hathaway can move away from the Bride Wars slop, but let’s hope she can pick something with a little more weight behind it next time. Rachel gets married, but does so with a CF-1. Sorry to spoil her big day.