Rachel Getting Married didn’t do too well in the UK. I watched it in my favourite cinema, early 2009, possibly one of the few thousand people who paid money to see the drama while it still had a theatrical run. Well acted on the part of Anne Hathaway, it featured the kind of fantasy wedding that would have me hemorrhaging sanity at all of the mawkish-sentimentality and unreal collection of guests. The groom marrying the eponymous Rachel, is played by Tunde Adebimpe. Upon seeing him, my mind flashed-back to an earlier film of his, the 2001 film Jump Tomorrow.
I had bought it on DVD and it was languishing unopened in my collection. I decided to watch it. Jump Tomorrow sucked me in with its whimsical take on reality which struck me as far more real and enjoyable than a lot of romantic comedies. The words, gentle and quirky are used to describe Jump Tomorrow. The word, real is what appeals to me.
Tunde Adebimpe’s George leads a life that is placid and full of obedience to his uncle who has set up and arranged marriage with a childhood friend. Like most of us, he’s sleep-walking through his days until he meets Alicia, a student engaged to her teacher with doubts about her choice. He falls in love. He then meets Gerard, a Frenchman recently jilted by his girlfriend and on the edge (literally at one point). Gerard offers to drive George to his wedding near Niagara Falls. They follow the same route as Alicia who is on her way to Canada with her fiancée. Gerard realizes that George has fallen for Alicia and tries to set him up with her – offering advice and helping in ways that are amusing as George struggles to cope with the romantic-advice Gerard offers.
Initially, Tunde Adebimpe’s performance as careful, controlled George left me as frustrated as any audience member who sees self-doubt and fear get in the way of happiness. Perhaps I could identify with his repression. It was Hippolyte Girardot who wowed me due to his charisma and… Frenchness, for lack of a better term. The relationship between the two is entertaining as Gerard leads George down avenues the other has studiously avoided his entire life up to that point.
The smart thing about the movie is that it captures the real disconnect between fantasy and reality – George imagines himself and Alicia in Spanish-language soaps with all of the melodrama and over-the-top acting and passion they are famous for. Unfortunately, he can’t generate the level of courage and emotion displayed in his fantasies and finds himself unable to translate his feelings and dreams into reality. Much like myself. I can imagine being James Bond, cool and confident with grace under pressure but the reality is that I’m much more likely to be lackadaisical and well-meaning.
Like all romantic comedies, it presents a portrait of love with a degree of idealised fantasy but with the acknowledgement of the George’s constrained reality. The final meeting between the two subverts the clichés, no dramatic chase to an airport, no kiss in the rain, just an awkward acknowledgement that they’ve changed their lives. Inspiring in its own way. I think I became mawkish over the course of this post. My apologies.