Whatever Rosemarie DeWitt does, she does so with the utmost command. When she plays a clueless, unenthusiastic sister on cable television, she plays it with remorseless vigor. A slighted wife or a conniving bisexual vegan – played with equal parts restraint and resolve. I find DeWitt’s acting choices to be continually fascinating, and her craft to be consistently perfect. DeWitt stole my heart six years ago as a title character attempting to get through her wedding weekend. In the time since, I’ve viewed everything she’s done before and after, all to immensely satisfying results.
Mad Men (2007; 2010)
There’s a warm appreciation that takes over when a favorite character from a show you love makes an unannounced visit after seasons of silence. That was Midge popping up toward the end of Season 4. After tracking Don down and convincing him to come back to her place, her true motivations become alarmingly real in the most heartbreaking way. From rouge beatnik to desperate junkie, oh how far our dear Midge fell.
United States of Tara (2009-2011)
Charmaine’s older sister, Tara, is a loving mother and devote wife who just happens to suffer from multiple personality disorder. And because Tara’s affliction occupies everyone’s attention, Charmaine is constantly fighting for the notice of those around her. Instead of being understanding and supportive, Charmaine typically tries to convince people that Tara’s disorder is staged. She berates, rolls eyes, scoffs, all with the pathetically narcissistic humor. If you’re used to Rosemarie DeWitt’s kind, loyal, girl next door screen persona, then I promise Charmaine will be a welcome change of pace.
So in the span of just a few minutes, we watch as DeWitt goes from curious spectator (at first, she thinks Lisa could be Gerald’s mistress), to protective, enraged wife. Is her husband at fault for killing that pedestrian? Possibly. But Mrs. Maretti won’t entertain the idea of her husband’s guilt, instead choosing to insult a young woman who was, albeit misguidedly, possibly just trying to do the right thing.
Your Sister’s Sister (2011)
Nobody Walks (2012)
There’s a scene toward the end of this movie in which Julie catches her beau (John Krasinski) in the desperate embrace of another (and much younger) woman. The look on DeWitt’s face (a fraction of which is pictured above) is enough to justify the existence of the whole film. Nobody Walks is full of long-winded arguments and improvisational exposition, which is what makes this silent moment so effective. It’s DeWitt standing back and saying nothing, while really saying everything.
The Best of the Best
Rachel Getting Married (2008)
I simply adore everything about DeWitt’s performance here. I love how she chose to play Rachel as a quietly resentful sister, a woman who opts to keep her mouth shut until she’s pushed into a corner. And when pushed, DeWitt delivers the finest acting of her career, diving into lengthy, tear-filled monologues about a life of regret and abandonment. For the first time in her life, Rachel’s able to tell her whole family about what she went through. Her pain, her struggle. The result is utterly shattering. It’s a performance that never fails to bring tears to my eyes.
We only know Rachel for a few days, but through fearless acting and a brave script, we come to learn everything about her. Her anger and resentment, her love and courage. And when it’s all said and done and the hurricane has gone, what is there left to do but bounce whimsically and sit and listen to the music?
Other Notable Roles
Rescue Me (2005)
Purple Violets (2007)
The Company Men (2010)
A Little Bit of Heaven (2011)
The Odd Life of Timothy Green (2012)
Promised Land (2012)
The Watch (2012)
Touchy Feely (2013)