' Cinema Romantico: Bachelorette

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Bachelorette

A great many of my friends have been married in the past few years and one detail they all repeat regarding their respective wedding ceremonies is this: “You think it’s your wedding. But it’s not really your wedding. It’s everyone else’s wedding.” The wedding of "Bachelorette", written and directed by Leslye Headland, based on her off Broadway play, is about the wedding of Becky (Rebel Wilson). But it’s not really about Becky’s wedding. It’s about her three BFFs from grade school, even if Becky’s own BFFs referred (and still refer) to her as “Pigface.” This is to say, they are mean to Becky, yet they still genuinely love Becky, each and every one. "Bachelorette" may be crude and narcissistic, yet, strangely, somehow, it is loving and selfless. It is the very definition of complex.


Becky’s three BFFs in order: Regan (Kirsten Dunst), Maid of Honor, is a bitchy taskmaster who runs the wedding lead-up, smartphone omnipresent, as if she’s running the upscale restaurant of which we briefly see her in charge. Gena (Lizzy Caplan) is bitter and pissed off, projecting, shall we say, a slutty arrogance. Katie (Isla Fisher) is bright and bubbly, so bright and bubbly that it clearly masks a deeper depression, a deeper depression that reveals itself the drunker and higher she gets. “If I’m still working in retail when I’m 40, I’ll kill myself,” she says. “You think I’m joking. I’ll take a shotgun and…” Of course, you have to hear how she says it, as if she is disappointed she mistakenly received a fat-free blueberry muffin. 

The film will, like it or not, evoke comparisons to "Bridesmaids", but if the inferior "Bridesmaids" is like an extended Saturday Night Live sketch with a little warmth and drama for a garnish, "Bachelorette" is braver and more along the lines of Scorsese’s "After Hours." The night before the wedding, in a bad idea gone wrong, the three girls rip Becky’s wedding dress. It proceeds to acquire some stains. And blood. So off into the New York Night they go in an effort to get the gown cleaned and repaired.

It is, as it must be, a labyrinthine ordeal that finds the ladies encountering the groomsmen, all of whom factor into the story in their own way, particularly Clyde (Adam Scott) who was not necessarily The One Who Got Away but The One Who Screwed It All Up. The humor here is less gag-oriented and more about endlessly acerbic dialogue, lines stacked on top of lines, and basic character behavior as boorish as it is revealing. Each new complication results in different decisions, disagreements and confessions. Insecurity runs rampant. Regan does not hide the fact that SHE – the one who got a scholarship to Princeton – who should be walking down the aisle before the Pigface. It’s terrifically harsh. But Dunst, in a virtuoso turn I fear will be short on recognition, still manages to make it clear that, selfish drama aside, Becky is her friend. 


The morning of the wedding Regan may order everyone around as if they are privates in her bridal army, but it is because, God bless her, she realizes this is Becky’s day and that Becky’s day will be perfect. She, like all the characters here, refreshingly, does not become a New Person, she does not necessarily Learn A Lesson, but she knows the difference between Humanistic Right and Wrong. That’s a little brilliant.

At first glance the film ends a few minutes too late. But stay with it. Re-consider it. Because it actually brings everything home perfectly. Bachelorette unveils itself in three parts. 1.) The three BFFs who make it all about their shit. 2.) Realizing it is not just about their shit and making sure the Bride gets her day. 3.) The Wedding Reception, that magical place where love prevails, everyone is happy and all problems, no matter how dire, seem solvable.

Just wait until these people wake up tomorrow morning.

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