Film: “Ricki and The Flash”; Language: English; Cast: Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Mamie Gummer, Rick Springfield, Audra McDonald, Sebastian Stan, Nick Westrate, Ben Platt; Director: Jonathan Demme; Rating: **1/2
“Ricki and The Flash” is a predictable redemption story of a convention-defying woman, Linda aka Ricki Rendazzo (Meryl Streep) who leaves her husband Pete (Kevin Kline) and children; daughter Julie (Mamie Gummer) and sons Joshua (Sebastian Stan) and Adam (Nick Westrate) in Indianapolis to pursue her dreams of a musical career in San Fernando Valley in Tarzana, California.
The ageing Ricki is the lead vocalist and guitarist of a rock band, The Flash, who perform regularly at the local bar, when she is not working as the cashier at the local supermarket.
One day after many years, Pete calls her to Indianapolis, to spend time with her depressed daughter, who has been dumped by her husband Max.
When she spends time with her children, Pete and Maureen, Pete’s current wife, she realises that she had been a bad wife and mother. And that she missed out on her family when they needed her the most and how they now despise her.
Hurt and filled with regret she returns to California, hoping for a reconciliation. And soon, Maureen sends Ricki an invitation to Josh’s wedding, where the inevitable happens.
Packed with emotion and charm despite its shortcomings, “Ricki and The Flash” is a mature look at the choices we make in life. It’s about how some choices, though selfish and damaging to those affected by them, are at times the right decisions.
Streep, with her Boy George looks, which includes her half plaited mane is brilliant as Ricki. She floors you with an enthusiastic and vibrant performance as a singer. She blazes through her songs like a real professional, reaching sharp crescendos.
As an emotionally dispassionate yet concerned and protective mother, she shares screen space with her real life daughter Gummer and it is a treat to watch the mother-daughter duo.
Gummer, with her unkempt hair and grumpy demeanour, is convincing as the vulnerable and brittle Julie.
With her cheerful disposition as the hospitable and amiable Maureen, Audra McDonald matches Streep with her histrionics. Their powerful confrontational scene is not only a crossfire of words but also provokes you to empathise with Maureen.
They are ably supported by the rest of the cast.
With each scene maintaining the three act formulaic pattern, Diablo Cody’s script is crisp, compact and dramatic. But unfortunately there is neither much of a plot to the tale nor originality to the family dynamics, making the entire narrative seem contrived.
The musical sequences are the most swaying moments of the film. The sound track consists of an original number, “Cold one” written by Jenny Lewis and Jonathan Rice. Also included are songs by Lucinda Williams, Emmylou Harris, Henry Wolfe and the Feelies. The most prominent of the numbers are “American girl”, “Keep Playin’ that rock and roll” and “My love will not let you down”.
The dialogues like; “Where did you meet the groom?”, “Caesarean section”. Or, “I have to go for therapy,” “Call in sick,” “I am sick, hence the therapy”, hit the mark occasionally.
With decent production values captured by Declan Quinn’s dynamic cinematography, the film is worth a watch.