Viewed – 22 March 2009 Cinema
Director Jonathan Demme returns to the directing chair after a brief hiatus since his last film The Manchurian Candidate in 2004. Although not overly familiar with his work, I must admit that his adaptation of The Silence of the Lambs is in my opinion one of the finest serial killer thrillers ever made. This time we’re on smaller turf with this very raw portrait of a young woman, Kym (Anne Hathaway) returning to the family home on the eve of her sister’s wedding, having just come out of rehab. Hathaway breaks free from the squeaky clean image she played so well in films like The Princess Diaries & The Devil Wears Prada, and is immediately intriguing as someone with more than a few problems. Faced with the prospect of seeing her family again and how her past actions may have altered their perception of her, Kym struggles to ‘play along’ with the occasion despite everything.
This gritty film feels like we’re eves dropping on a family occasion with its fly-on-the-wall approach and jump-cut camera work reminiscent of Mike Leigh. Demme is obviously going for the less Hollywood-ised approach here, and it works well, pulling you into events whilst never loosing the realism. Hathaway is wonderful, well supported by a good cast, all of which you completely believe, especially Rosemary Dewitt as Rachel, and a near-unrecognisable Debra Winger.
Although the film does explore some of the darker aspects of Kym’s life and her actions in the past, I felt it was played a bit safe at times, seeming to only really come alive late on in the film, and the focus on the rather unconventional wedding arrangements came across heavy handed and annoying, when I would have preferred to discover more about this troubled character. Still, this is well acted and absorbing, with a career best so far from Anne Hathaway that marks her out as an actress to watch.
Verdict: 3 /5