As time goes on it’s only natural that one’s opinion of a movie will change. The technical deficiencies fade away in the mind to let emotion and tone shine through, for instance. Maybe a theme takes some time to strike a chord but will hang around in your head for a while. Last year I found Michael Clayton and Into the Wild stuck with me long after I wrote my initial unenthusiastic posts. My obvious problems with Knocked Up quickly slipped from the forefront, replaced with what pure joy that film was.

Of course, the process can work the opposite way as well. A movie jam-packed with emotion that leaves you reeling as the credits roll can become melodramatic and manipulative the more you think about it (see: Blow). As time went on I thought less of Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose and more of what a structural mess it was. And boy does A Beautiful Mind feel like a dull Best Picture choice now, huh?

I’m saying all this because last night the Grouches saw Rachel Getting Married, a film I’m really not sure what to think about. I left feeling like I needed to work through it a little before making any firm judgment. It’s a film with some serious pros and cons, both in quantity and magnitude. I’m curious to see how my feelings about it coalesce; in a month will I think back to its performances and brilliant emotional scenes or its severe pacing problems? How will a second viewing in a few months hold up?

So I present to you the Rachel Getting Married Index (RGMI). I will periodically check in throughout the Oscar season to explain my current thoughts on the film and what, if anything, has changed. Or if I get bored with the conceit, then not. Whatever.

The RGMI for October 22, 2008 is: 6.5.

This is what I’m thinking hours after leaving the theater. When Rachel Getting Married connects it really connects. Some scenes hit so hard I could feel them. In the good scenes everything is right on and it feels authentic. And yet I didn’t think director Jonathan Demme really had any control over the film as a whole. I don’t demand action and I’m perfectly happy with a slow pace that builds mood, theme, or character but scenes continually go on for just way too long for no apparent reason. A scene like the one at the rehearsal dinner starts off kind of pointless as characters start giving toasts to the happy couple. Then, even as it doesn’t really go anywhere, I get into it because it’s all about building mood. But then it starts going a little long.

Then it ends 15 minutes later.

It’s also the most WTF wedding I’ve ever seen. It’s so out there it took me out of the film at times. And it’s intensely uncomfortable at times. In an effective way? Not sure.

Stay tuned for further RGMI updates! No matter what happens, at least this dysfunctional-family-at-a-wedding film will probably not fall to Margot at the Wedding depths (though while writing this I’ve managed to call it Rachel at the Wedding several times). I also intend to explore the parallels I saw to another recent film, and that film is of course Dan in Real Life, but you already knew that.

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