My current Top 5

My current Top 5

4/25/2010

Best Actress 2008: Anne Hathaway in "Rachel Getting Married"

Anne Hathaway received the first Oscar nomination as her career for her performance as Kym in Jonathan Demme’s Rachel Getting Married – a young and formerly drug addicted woman who leaves rehab for a few days to attend the wedding of her sister Rachel.

Rachel Getting Married is a very well-made family drama that is mostly advisable because of its strong performances. Apart from that, it follows the well-known formula of most family dramas: a feud between siblings, an emotionally unavailable mother and a kind father trying his best to keep the family together. But even though Rachel Getting Married still offers enough great moments to become a memorable experience.

The character of Kym is first introduced in rehab and she already shows that certain attitude that she will demonstrate for most of the time – with a cigarette in her hand, seemingly a little bored, but also a bit aggressive and superior. Kym’s face constantly seems to say that everything that has to do with her is more interesting and more worthy to talk about than anything related to somebody else.

With her performance, Anne Hathaway wisely uses all the qualities she usually lets shine in her comedies, like her charm, her loveable personality and her unique appearance and uses it against type to create a memorable character. Her big, expressive eyes, her usually beaming face this time show sorrow and a haunting sadness that Kym mostly tries to hide behind a fake smile and a hyperactive personality.

Kym is not a likeable character and Anne Hathaway never tries to turn her into one. Kym is selfish, irresponsible and constantly tries to push everyone away while desperate to hold onto them at the same time. She is a constant up and down of emotions, going from selfish to mean to nice to angry to depressed in a few moments and Anne Hathaway magnificently portrays all these emotions and Kym’s mood swings in the most natural way – she is able to make Kym an honest and real creation. Her performance never seems rehearsed or prepared in any way but instead very to-the-moment and natural.

Like Kate Winslet, Anne Hathaway creates a rather mysterious character but while Kate Winslet combines this with the noticeable distance Hannah keeps to the viewer and her co-characters, Anne’s Kym bursts onto the screen right into the middle of all actions. Anne Hathaway is able to make Kym an introverted and extroverted character at the same time. She constantly carries her emotions on her face, she constantly talks about everything that’s on her mind (which has mostly to do with herself) but at the same time, Anne is able to hint that Kym carries much more feelings and emotions inside of her.

Anne Hathaway effectively shows that Kym is a woman who always needs to be the center of attention, no matter what. The unforgettable scene when Kym is proposing a toast at a dinner party and talks for what seems like hours only about herself until she catches herself and ends it as a toast to her sister is incredibly uncomfortable to watch thanks to Anne Hathaway who is so awkward, weird, unlikable but also fascinating at the same moment that Kym seems like a train wreck – she’s a disaster but one can’t help but look. But even though Anne is also able to demonstrate that Kym is not evil when she tries to steal spotlight or become the center of attention – it’s just something she does naturally. It seems that Kym knows that she can’t compare to her perfect sister and her perfect husband, that she sticks out like sore thumb at every family event so she has to constantly talk about her drug problems, her life in rehab and everything else because that’s all she has to offer.

At the same time, Anne Hathaway also knows when to step into the background and keep her performance down. It is her biggest success that she never lets the grand emotions and actions of Kym influence her performance to become larger-than-life – instead, she does it all very subtly and naturally and that way is able to combine the Kym who constantly acts and pretends with a more honest and real Kym who shows true emotions and feelings.

Later, the viewer learns more about Kym and her past. Years ago, when she was still using drugs, Kym had to take care of her little brother which ended in a tragedy. In a very impressive scene, Kym tells this backstory and Anne Hathaway never tries to make this her ‚big moment’ – instead, she subtly lets the horror of her memories overcome us while Kym remains rather calm. She has lived with these awful memories for years and she knows that she will never be able to forgive herself. These scenes suddenly show a news Kym. Her constant need for affection, her way of always trying to upstage everyone and get in the center of attention, her constant neediness are suddenly visible in a new light – it seems that she is also constantly fighting for a place in her family out of fear to be rejected for her ‚crime’ in her past.

With all the great moments, small and grand, in her performance, Anne Hathaway still can’t hide the fact that sometimes she is a little out-of-her league. She is certainly on her way to become a top dramatic actress but it’s sometimes obvious that she is not there yet. Even though the script obviously puts Kym in the center of attention, it’s mostly Anne Hathaway’s co-stars who dominate the movie: Bill Irwin, Debra Winger and especially Rosemary DeWitt contribute enormously to the film’s success.

But still: from her wonderful confrontation scene with Debra Winger where Anne amazingly shows Kym’s inner pain and her search for a way out of it, her anger and her shock to her unforgettable “Daddy”, Anne Hathaway gives a remarkable and magnificent performance that gets

11 comments:

Louis Morgan said...

A bit too mannered for me. I think she had a few good scenes but on the whole I did not find her convincing.

Fritz said...

Mmh, I thought she was very good even if it could have been better.

Sage Slowdive said...

I just don't get it, but I'm always alone on these things! :]

joe burns said...

YAY! Four stars! Even though I would give her five, but at least you like it. I understand why someone would think that the supporting cast would dominate the movie. I thought she was believable and realistic all the way and as I've said, I thought she really got inside of Kym, showing her selfishness and her wanting to reconnect with her family and I always felt a connection with her.

joe burns said...

And I think she'll come in second on your ranking, since I still think Leo will be number one. I think she'll get higher then Winslet though. I can't wait to see your thoughts on Streep.

Fritz said...

I think I will do Streep or Leo next...it depends on my mood. I have to say that somehow I'm suffering a writer's block. The women of 2008 don't make it easy for me to write about them but the funny thing is that, whenever I don't know what to write, I somehow end up writing much more than usually...

joe burns said...

Oh, that's odd. Do Streep next! I think your thoughts on her will tell me if I'm right about your ranking or not. And what year will be next? 1968 would be interesting, but The Subject Was Roses is very hard to find. Luckily, I saw it on TCM a few months ago. But the others films are avaliable though!

Fritz said...

I know, Patricia Neal is the one who is impossible to find...There are so many years where one women is missed! I might do 1971 or 1998 next, I'm not sure yet. Or maybe something completely else; I think I will decide once I am done with 2008.

joe burns said...

I was thinking about 1998 too, but not soon, since I'll be doing 1974 after 1988, and then a year from the 60's after that. Have you seen The Subject Was Roses before?

Sage Slowdive said...

1971 would be very interesting, since you don't really like Jane :)

Fritz said...

Yeah, I don't know why I don't warm up to Jane Fonda. I just don't think that she is a very good actress...
No, I haven't seen The Subject was Roses yet...