Picks and Pans Review: Rachel Getting Married

updated 10/13/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/13/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie Dewitt, Debra Winger, Bill Irwin | R

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After an extended stint in rehab for drugs and drinking, Kym Buchman (Hathaway) nervously returns home to her family's rambling house in Connecticut. Her older sister Rachel (Dewitt), a Ph.D. candidate in psychology, is getting married and, over a long celebratory weekend, an emotionally fragile Kym desperately tries to bridge old rifts and reconnect with her family—or in lashing out at least make them acknowledge her.

The appealing Rachel Getting Married is at its heart about facing up to past hurts and learning to forgive. There is much to like and admire here, starting with an exquisitely complex performance by Hathaway as the often irritating Kym. She gets the externals right—Kym's messy, can't-be-bothered haircut and twitchy movements—but it's her needy, plaintive gaze that is most haunting. As Kym's father and sister, Irwin and Dewitt are terrific but it's Winger, as Kym's self-involved mom, who blisters the screen with her intensity.

My quibble? Director Jonathan Demme (Beloved) self-indulgently wanders off track too often, especially by allowing extended musical turns during the wedding scenes. You've got great main characters in this film. Keep them front and center.

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