Lumet helps Demme build emotional foundation

Sony Pictures Classics

Release date: Oct. 3

After a couple of Hollywood misfires (“The Truth About Charlie,” “The Manchurian Candidate”), Jonathan Demme returns to his low-budget roots with this exuberant dysfunctional-family portrait about a recovering drug addict (Anne Hathaway) who takes a break from rehab to attend the wedding of her older sister (Rosemarie DeWitt). Critics have applauded the film, noting the movie’s unique “kind of emotional wallop” (Los Angeles Times) and “undeniable and authentic vitality” (New York Times).

In particular, Hathaway’s performance as the train-wreck sister, the troubled young Kym, has most surprised and satisfied viewers. “Hathaway is a revelation,” writes Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman. “She makes toxic narcissism mesmerizing.” The actress’s transformation from tween starlet (“The Princess Diaries” ) to serious thespian may be rewarded by awards orgs. Demme’s supporting cast is equally up to the challenging material, which flits back and forth between tragic melodrama and lighthearted romp. Newcomer DeWitt holds her own with Hathaway, offering up just as many tears. With its home-movie aesthetic, the film isn’t exactly the stuff of major Academy fodder, though it’s posted strong limited release B.O. numbers.

While Demme has a shot as a wild-card candidate for director, “Rachel Getting Married” doesn’t compare with “The Silence of the Lambs,” Demme’s ’92 Oscar sweep; but the intimacy and big-heartedness of the affair could draw attention to newbie scribe Jenny Lumet (Sidney Lumet’s daughter), who created the intricate emotional foundation upon which Demme works.

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