Wow, this movie was a pleasant surprise for me. Despite all the positive reviews it’s been receiving, I wasn’t sure it would appeal to me. I was definitely wrong. I found the movie totally warm, engaging, endearing and somewhat heartbreaking. I ended up really enjoying watching these characters, who like most people I know and love, all seem to be flawed in their own, unique ways and yet capable of genuine affection and connection. I really didn’t have a problem with most of the stuff that other people seemed to not like about the film. I actually liked the handheld camera in this movie and found its use to be in service of the story being told. I loved the mishmash of live music that just seems to be emanating from different parts of the house. I loved the moment when Tunde Adebimpe starts singing to Rosemarie DeWitt. Which brings me to just how well-cast this movie is. I loved the performances all around. Despite all the kudos Anne Hathaway has been receiving for her performance in this, I was worried that she’d play the character in a way that makes her too sympathetic. I was happy to be proven wrong. Bill Irwin is great as the father and has some really nice moments in the film. I really liked Debra Winger’s portrayal of the remote and distant mother who doesn’t seem to have the strength to cope with being a caring mother. But the highlight was definitely Rosemarie Dewitt. She just brought Rachel to life with all her strength, grace, beauty and issues.

I found a few things I didn’t like about the writing. For instance, the way the dishwasher scene ends. I loved the scene by itself but really thought the plate was unnecessary. I felt much the same way about the car crash. But these are minor gripes. For the most part, I was completely engaged and by the end of the film, I had already shed some tears and shared some laughs with the rest of the guests. So yeah, am so glad I watched this before the final filmspot votes are due. I can now happily vote for Dewitt for Best Supporting Actress.

Grade: B