Rachel Getting Married appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Shot “documentary style”, the transfer came with some related limitations but it usually looked fine.
Sharpness seemed good to acceptable. The shooting style meant lots of out of focus elements, but those had nothing to do with the transfer itself. Most of the time, the DVD featured delineation that was perfectly appropriate for the various shots. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, though I noticed some light edge haloes. Source flaws also remained absent; the format meant a moderate amount of grain, but otherwise this was a clean presentation.
Colors tended to be low-key. The film boasted a natural palette, but it generally downplayed the different tones. Though the hues never seemed memorable, they were fine for what I expected. Blacks looked solid, while shadows were a bit erratic. Usually the low-light shots seemed fine, but a few seemed somewhat dense. Overall, this was a satisfying presentation given its roots.
Similar thoughts greeted the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Married. General ambience ruled the day. The movie eschewed a traditional score, as it instead preferred “found music” that came from the wedding musicians.
That meant the “score” really was part of the environmental side of things. The music popped up from the appropriate spots based on the positioning of the musicians, so it became part of the soundscape. The film didn’t feature many prominent effects, as it went with a low-key soundfield. Sequences like a storm added a little pizzazz, but don’t expect much from this track. It used the five speakers in an appropriate manner but wasn’t memorable.
And that was fine, as a more dynamic soundfield would’ve been out of place. Audio quality was good. Speech appeared natural and crisp, without edginess or other concerns. Music stayed in the background most of the time; as I mentioned, the “score” was closer to an effects component than anything else. The music became more dynamic during the wedding, as it entered the forefront and showed good reproduction. In terms of those effects, they appeared clear and accurate. This was a perfectly complement track that suited the movie.
A good mix of extras fleshes out this release. We find two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from producer Neda Armian, screenwriter Jenny Lumet and editor Tim Squyres. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific look at script and story issues, cast, characters and performances, sets and locations, audio design and the use of music, editing and continuity, working with director Jonathan Demme, and various technical issues.
Some very good information emerges during this commentary, especially when we learn more about the complexities of the shoot. Squyres becomes the most useful participant in that domain, as he provides solid insights into the various challenges. Lumet also tosses out some interesting stories such as how a dinner with Bob Fosse and her father Sidney Lumet influenced the film’s dishwasher scene.
Unfortunately, too much of the commentary drags. We get a bit of dead air and a whole lot of praise. In addition, the women tend to simply identify on-screen participants and don’t tell us much about them. This is a generally informative track but not a great one.
By the way, here’s my early pick for The Most Hypocritical Commentary Moment of 2009: at one point, Lumet mocks “women of privilege”. Excuse me? The daughter of a famous, successful film director, a woman who was born with the proverbial silver spoon in her mouth - she’s in a position to make fun of the wealthy? Oh please. The hypocrisy found in that little jab astonishes me.
For the second commentary, we get a solo track from actor Rosemarie DeWitt. In her running, screen-specific discussion, the actor discusses other working with other members of the cast and crew, location elements, and factors related to the film’s unusual shooting style.
At her best, DeWitt offers good insights into what it was like on the set. She tells us a fair amount about the “on the fly” style and relates some useful nuggets. Unfortunately, she also goes silent much of the time, and she devotes way too much of her comments to praise; we’re constantly told that she loves various actors/crew/elements, and that everything is “amazing”. The chat includes some nice moments but doesn’t come with enough of those to sustain us over almost two hours.
Three featurettes follow. A Look Behind the Scenes of Rachel Getting Married runs 15 minutes, 46 seconds and includes notes from Lumet, DeWitt, Armian, director Jonathan Demme, director of photography Declan Quinn, and actors Anne Hathaway, Anisa George, Bill Irwin, Tunde Adebimpe, Mather Zickel, and Anna Deavere Smith.
“Look” examines the film’s style and scope, story and characters, cast and performances, camerawork, and music. The show gives us a moderately superficial take on the production, and it includes the usual abundance of praise. Nonetheless, it covers a few good topics and usually manages to overcome the fluffier tendencies despite its self-congratulatory moments.
During the seven-minute and 46-second The Wedding Band, we hear from Demme, Adebimpe, composer/violinist Zafer Tawil, and musicians Amir ElSaffar and Tareq Abboushi. “Band” looks at the movie’s music and unusual use of score. We get a smattering of interesting details about the flick’s unconventional soundtrack.
The “Featurettes” domain concludes with a Cast and Crew Q&A. It goes for 49 minutes, 17 seconds and features Demme, Armian, Quinn, Squyres, Tawil, Irwin, Zickel, first AD HH Cooper and music editor Suzana Peric. “Q&A” discusses the project’s development and Demme’s involvement, cast and performances, improvisation and the film’s shooting style, editing and music, and a few other production topics.
Note that only one-third of the program actually involves audience questions; the rest is more of a panel discussion. Not that this emphasis harms the piece, as it provides a pretty good examination of some elements related to the film. Unsurprisingly, a few stories and facts repeat from earlier components; this is the 97th time I’ve heard the genesis of the scene in which Kym wants the musicians to take a break. Nonetheless, we get some useful details in this generally informative program.
Negative footnote: the “Q&A” suffers from poor recording that required me to turn up my TV’s volume to a much higher level than normal. This meant a few bits like audience applause burst out of the set, and it also became hard to hear the participants at times. I still made it through the show, but the problematic volume levels cause distractions.
Nine Deleted Scenes fill a total of 19 minutes, 46 seconds. These include “1st 12-Step Meeting” (4:09), “2nd 12-Step Meeting” (1:48), “Kym and Keiran at Scotty’s Restaurant” (2:06), “Wedding Receiving Line” (2:10), “Kym and Keiran Talk In Basement” (2:02), “Kym and Rachel Driving to the Hair Salon” (1:26), “While Kym Is Away” (1:36), “Roger Corman at Backyard Reception” (0:58), and “More Rehearsal Dinner Speeches” (2:31).
Many of the scenes offer the same tedious nonsense in the final film. Both of the “12-Step” sequences are total wastes of time, and “Speeches” bores as well. Some of the others actually advance characters, though – which is probably why they were cut, since it’s clear the filmmakers preferred pointless scenes to useful ones. In particular, we learn a bit more about Keiran here; he’s left fairly undefined in the final film.
A few promos open the DVD. We get clips for Sugar, I’ve Loved You So Long, and Elegy. These also appear in the Previews area along with ads for Waltz With Bashir, Blu-Ray Disc, Synecdoche, New York, Passengers, The Class, Frozen River, Nothing But the Truth, What Doesn’t Kill You, I Served the King of England, The Children of Huang Shi, Ashes of Time Redux, Brick Lane and The Wackness. In addition, the DVD presents the theatrical trailer for Married.
If you’d like a dramatic examination of addiction and family tensions, look somewhere other than Rachel Getting Married. If you want a tedious compilation of endless scenes that go nowhere, this is your movie. Packed with irritating characters and contrived situations, this becomes an aggressively annoying movie without much to redeem it. The DVD offers fairly good picture and audio along with erratic but occasionally positive supplements. If you can get through Married without at least five declarations of “does this piece of crap ever end?” then you’ve got one up on me.