“Rachel Getting Married” sticks after the credits roll

“Dogme 95: The Vow of Chastity,” signed by Danish film directors Lars von Trier (“Dancer in the Dark”) and Thomas Vinterberg (“The Wedding”) in 1995, has everything to do with abstinence. A rejection of the artifice, expense and commerciality of modern film, the forefathers of Dogme 95 sought the low-budget high road – crafting a minimalist discipline that’s “supreme goal is to force the truth out of [the film’s] characters and setting.” Indie in retrospect, the Dogme collective embraced the dawn of digital videotaping in the ’90s – fusing fiction and documentary homeliness to shoot the ‘naked film’- something real and in the moment. A Ten Commandment manifesto, the Dogme95 contract limits the director to hand-held camera use, on-location filming, on-set music creation only, and no special lighting or optical work. Stringently dogmatic (nothing will be said of puns); the collective broke up in 2005 complaining that the rules became too restricting. But their seed had already taken flight over the Atlantic – the mid- ’90s in America crowned the “Indie-era,” welcoming Brecht Andersch’s “Slackers,” and “The Blair Witch Project” phenomenon. Jonathon Demme, Academy-award winning director of “The Silence of Lambs” and “Philadelphia,” has come out with “Rachel Getting Married” – a self-admittedly dogme-inspired film.Demme told The Oregonian that his “secret is that I isolated myself. I wasn’t even calling shots. I wanted the camera to go off what the actors were doing instead of some preconceived or prescribed idea that I might have had.”A picture- perfect white columned New England mansion, encircled by 2 perfect acres is the setting for a wedding and its after-party, as we follow Demme’s camera glued to Kym (Anne Hathaway), her sister Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt), and their father (Bill Irwin) up its winding stairs, through its large opulent rooms, in and out of its front, back and side doors – inhaling every moment of their lives with unbearably tight close-ups; where the viewer experiences scene after scene of uncalculated emotions, teeming with raw intensity and painful confrontation. The characters drive the scenes and their organic accessibility is riveting albeit wearing.Each scene abounds with chimes, toots, sax, and guitar as the wedding guests enrich the film with their musical obsessions. Framed by live music- in all its varieties, jazz, hip hop, blues, samba, African drum circles – its soundtrack epitomizes the degree of multi-culturalism in the film. At the rehearsal dinner, both trained and untrained actors of every American breed toast the bride Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt) and groom Sydney (Tunde Adebimpe, who is also the lead singer of TV on the Radio) in a democratic plea for racial reconciliation. With Kym (Anne Hathaway) at the film’s core, the tyrannical and narcissistic addict of the family on rehab hiatus, the film stays grounded in the family’s open wounds, and in her unrelenting pain. Hathaway’s razor sharp, naked character offsets the film’s inclination to sketch out caricatures of everyone else. Hathaway surprises viewers with her display of emotional rage, unseen in former roles. Beneath the surface joy of wedding bells, guilt simmers and the emotional isolation and anger of each family member starts to implode-awakened by Kym’s demands and the irrevocable memory of her past crimes. Demme’s directing – or his deliberate lack there of – is a return to the character-driven film; its sensible realism, thanks to Dogme 95, determines that the characters will stay with you long after the credits roll.Directing: 5 StarsActing: 5 StarsScreenwriting: 5 Stars