Academy Award nominee Anne Hathaway is Kym, a former drug addict who is about to offend her sister’s wedding (Rachel, played by Rosemarie DeWitt). What follows is an ultra-realistic look of family life and addiction through the night before to the big day.
Filmed like a jokeless episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, the film has a naturalistic feel throughout – and though nauseating at times – the hand-held camera work really puts the viewer in the middle of each scene.
In some ways, one could even see similarities to the young girl-and-event movie Pieces of April, which saw Katie Holmes deal with her mother’s illness on Thanksgiving. Here, the problem is addiction and the self-obsession that comes with it.
The most interesting aspect is the self-obsession at a recovering drug addict being played against the bride’s obsession that this is her day. During one particularly heated argument Rachel ups the ante and announces that she is pregnant, to which Kym exclaims, ‘That’s not fair! That’s so unfair!’ when the family’s sour mood turns to joy
The mood of the film changes more frequently than a catwalk model during fashion week.
Laughter, joy and sadness flow seamlessly from scene to scene (which never feels set up), As the two families involved in the wedding converge, there is a real sense of happiness when the bride’s family welcomes the groom’s relatives. But one is always on edge, wondering if Kym is going to self-destruct and bring the wedding down with her.
Whereas the groom’s family is painted as ideal, one-dimensional people, the characterization and costing for Rachel’s family is perfect. Bill Irwin appears as the sister’s terminally putting-on-a-brave-face father, Paul, who considers Kym’s concerns over anyone else. Yet even he has experienced enough of his daughter’s dramatics to have a breaking point.
As if that’s not enough, there’s also the shadow of a dead brother hanging over the proceedings. Still, the mood doesn’t descend into moroseness. After all, there is a wedding to attend to.
But unlike so many studio films with pat endings, this one deserves heaps of praise for its very real look at addiction, and the pins and needles feeling that often accompanies families who have more submerged issues in their household than they would like to admit,