DIR: Jonathan Demme • WRI: Diablo Cody • PRO: Mason Novick, Marc Platt • DOP: Declan Quinn • ED: Wyatt Smith • DES: Stuart Wurtzel • MUS: Joseph Trapanese • CAST: Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Mamie Gummer, Sebastian Stan
The latest project of writer Diablo Cody (who penned the Oscar-winning script for Juno) hits screens this week. Ricki and The Flash is a feel-good, music-filled delight about family, staying true to yourself, and second chances. From its opening number, Meryl Streep truly lights up the screen in the lead role of musician Ricki, and shines throughout the film right up to its heart-warming conclusion.
Ricki, originally Linda, plays regular gigs with her band, The Flash, to a small but enthusiastic audience in a bar in California. By day, she works in a soul-crushing job in a supermarket, counting the hours before she gets to be on stage again. Even at this point, the audience wonders if is this is what Ricki had imagined her life to turn out like. During one of her shifts, Ricki gets a call from her ex-husband, Pete (Kevin Kline), asking if she will come to Indianapolis as her daughter, Julie (Mamie Gummer), is going through a difficult divorce and needs support. Ricki has become estranged from her family, which also includes two adult sons, since she left her husband to pursue her career several years ago. Nonetheless, she is soon on a plane to reunite with them.
After this, we get to know more about Ricki’s past and her unusual take on the world. Given Ricki’s lack of contact with her family, tension and conflict inevitably arise as she tries to reconnect with her children. We also get an idea of what her life could have been had she stayed with Pete. Whether she is giving her daughter unusual worldly advice, is in the heat of an argument or singing a soulful tune, Streep is fabulous as always and the scenes with Streep and Kline are particular fun to watch. The two bounce off each other energetically and comically, while Gummer gives an emotional and sympathetic performance as Julie. Her character becomes child-like in the face of her divorce, expressing abandonment and despair through her words and body language, but also incorporates the role of the cheeky teenage daughter, who talks back to her parents and tells them the straight-up, often unbearable, truth.
The film stutters a little in its second act when Ricki returns to California to decide what her next move will be. Fortunately, it is also the point of the film where we get to see more performances from Ricki and The Flash, which are electric with energy and engaging. The music is full of joy with a mix of classic rock ballads, new melodies and ‘rocked up’ pop songs delivered by the flawless Streep alongside the legendary Rick Springfield, who plays the lead guitarist, Greg, of The Flash and boyfriend to Ricki.
The film is rather cheesy, a little too long and probably won’t appeal to everyone, but Ricki and The Flash is also great craic and smile-inducing. Its emphasis on family and forgiveness are timeless.
12A(See IFCO for details)
Ricki and the Flash – Official Website