The first inductee into my hollowed chamber of fame is Jonathan Demme’s “Rachel Getting Married.” Released in 2008, it came to my attention (as did so many wonderful things) via Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross, who interviewed Anne Hathaway in November of 2010. A month later, I found a copy of the film hidden away in the obscure titles section of a video store. I first watched it in on December 19, 2010, and many more times since then.
The reason “Rachel Getting Married” became such an important film to me lies in the ways it portraits and deals with trauma, loss, and grief – by being a celebration of joy, love, and life. 2010 was a very bad year for me in a lot of ways, and this film gave me the opportunity to look at things in my own life through the lens of cinema. Things that were too close, too big, too powerful to observe directly.
That’s what great art is for me. Like a mirror, it allows you to see things about yourself, to get close to yourself, by putting a distance between you as the one who is looking and you the one who is being looked at.
I don’t know if “Rachel Getting Married” can be for you what it is for me. It doesn’t have to, though. Everybody has their own lives, their own ways of looking at things. That’s why this “Pantheon” isn’t about declaring masterpieces, or awarding acclaim. It’s about the films that, for whatever reason, I wouldn’t want to live without.
And “Rachel Getting Married” is right up there.