Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Rachel Getting Married

(I know I'm late on this, but it's now on on dvd so go watch it)

In a moment of familial convalescence I had only gotten a glimpse of falling asleep to late night conversations between my mom and her sister, the two sibs at the center of Rachel Getting Married wash up scars both real and embedded. It blows the fire-breathing wound salting that came before it out the loch ness dwelling it wallowed in, almost making the mythical burrowing seem absolutely necessary so the connection could be made this strong again.

My mom's upbringing, from the bits and pieces left at my disposal, was less than ideal. Impenetrable parentals barely there (youth done in by a nazi escape route, shell shocked IDF backlash, double time work loads to pay for the housing) with the double-edged sword of authorial command left at my mother's feet. The chance for being siblings was upended by a circumstantially forced hierarchy that tore them apart for years, the youngin's not knowing who the real mother was, my mom not knowing where her allegiances lay, or where her priorities were to be spent. Empty house for months at a time brought on round the clock, drunken card games, on one hand putting the youngest two of the four on display for guests to play with like dolls, with her other hand broom-ready, a dust pan in tow.

On a most recent trip, while sleeping next to the crib of my sister's new born kid in her village house outside tel-aviv, both my mom and sister, always prone to on and off familial theatrics, just pored over the details of their youthful responsibilities. I, of course, felt unusually privileged and spoiled, again any sunk moods the result of first world neuroses. It was an odd moment, billion piece puzzle finally seeing some kind of solidified semblance.

Rachel Getting Married is kind of like that. Both experiences making me jealous I wasn't and didn't have a sister to deal with the world through. I've got a little brother, he's more like the music hired for the film's festivities, a self-proclaimed god of rock blazing trails only distanced from a telescope in NASA. He's loads of fun, the infighting there aplenty, but the feminine quality that my post-gender lib/arts education is doing away with is totally missing.

Without going too heavy into details, the film's wedding video with a broken record button on infinite gaze catches the whole unpacking of the family dynamic's fractured psychology. The constantly shifting alliances when a junkie sibling breaks back into the fold, the center of a tragedy she'll never be able to outlive being partly responsible for, the intimate knowledge thus wielded by every knowing relative to cut deep into that black hole of emotional negation. Why would blood relations be so cruel to one another? The underlying joke being that the titular character is working on her PhD in psychology, a bevy of statistics and APA terminology still finding itself useless in the alien terrain of another person. No matter what institutions these bloodlines hide behind, it's each other they'll eventually have to answer to. The sooner they realize that, the sweeter the release of finally knowing who they're forever bound to. Don't watch it for Anne Hathaway, watch it for who her character represents, in the context of her familial extensions.

That release will never be that sweet, as the film attests, a bitter taste left on the tongue, too much baggage for a swift layover and departure, the desire to just leave the bags and fuck the f off. But finally, knowing what to fuck the f off from, and being able to decide what parts of it to warm up and into. Cut deep, but with a surgeon's precision. Stitches are imperative.