Star Cast: Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Mamie Gummer, Audra McDonald, Sebastian Stan, Rick Springfield
Director: Jonathan Demme
What’s Good: Meryl Streep tries hard to pack a punch as a sixty something rock n roller but manages to excel only in certain scenes. Nonetheless, this film drives on her performance!
What’s Bad: The film is way scattered and hence there is little to concentrate on. It gives you too much to see but too less to take home.
Loo Break: Yeah! A couple of them if you don’t like the songs.
Watch or Not?: Ricki And The Flash has nothing extraordinary to offer. So unless you are a die-hard fan of Meryl Streep, this film should not be your priority.
Ricki Rendazzo aka Linda Brumell (Meryl Streep) is a sixty something vocalist for the band The Flash. Opposite of successful and always broke, Ricki’s band performs at a local bar in California. Her personal life is a wreck as she is not coming to terms with taking a decision of dating her co-band member Greg (Rick Springfield).
In the midst of all this, Linda receives a call from her ex-husband Pete (Kevin Kline) who informs her that their daughter Julie (Mamie Gummer) is back home after separating from her husband since he cheated on her. Julie is in a fragile mental state and is going through depression for which she undergoes therapy sessions. Hearing this, Linda decides to visit her daughter in Indianapolis without the money for cab fare and hotel, thus crashing at Pete’s luxury home.
Linda is scared to face her daughter whom she abandoned along with her sons, to pursue her dreams. Naturally, having a lot of angst for her mother, Julie is initialy hostile towards Linda but eventually comes around. At one point, Linda, Pete and Julie have Pete’s hidden stache of Marijuana and that really breaks the ice between the three. On the other hand, Linda’s sons, Josh and Adam are not quite excited to see her. Josh is diplomatic and while he pretends to be fine on the surface, he is secretly hoping to not invite her for his wedding. Adam declares that he is gay and takes Linda’s shocking reaction as mockery towards him, increasing their problems further.
Soon Pete’s current wife, Maureen (Audra McDonald) returns home and has a heated exchange of words with Linda and asks her to leave. A heartbroken Linda returns home and her recent state of mind affects the band’s performance at the bar too. Unhappy to see her sad, Greg confesses his love for Linda and urges her to consider. She agrees and the duo start dating.
In a few months, Linda receives an invite for Josh’s wedding which Maureen sends with an apology letter. Unable to afford the trip, Linda decides to give the wedding a miss but Greg pawns his Gibson (guitar) and pays for their trip. Linda is happy to be a part of her son’s big moment and gifts him with a performance of her band at the wedding. She manages to make way into their hearts and thus patches up with her kids towards the end.
Ricki And The Flash Review: Script Analysis
The film tries to tackle many issues at once and thus fails at showing anything in particular. It is a confused plot with too many diverse topics to ponder on. To start with, Diablo Cody very rightly shows the challenges a woman faces when she walks out on a happy family to pursue her dreams. The society is unfair and will always look down at a woman who abandons her kids for her career, as opposed to a man who easily passes off with multiple marriages even.
At one point of the film, the writer even includes a scene where Linda breaks down on stage and tells a story of Mick Jagger having seven children with four women, whom he never raised but thanks to his success, nobody gives a damn about it. The problem is that, with a deep subject like this, the failed rockstar angle seems too cliched. Also right from the first time that Linda meets Julie, we know they will eventually get along, thus the predictability of the plot is extremely high. Yet, things are working just fine until, we see a forced sub-plot of Linda and Greg’s love story which could have been cut down.
And of course, the happily ever after for all seems like an easy climax Cody chalked out for what could have been a better analysis of relationships failing over time and that blood ties stand not business in it.
Ricki And The Flash Review: Star Performance
Meryl Streep is a great actress and there are no doubts about it. She learnt to play guitar for this role and while she does a good job at crooning, there is some uncomfort in that body language and I cannot imagine why an actress of her stature would have said yes for the film. The best song she croons in the film is Cold One on the acoustic and it truly soothes you. She completely rocks in the rock chick look.
Kevin Kline as Pete does a good job. He is perfect as the uncomfortable and awkward ex-husband whose ex-wife is anything but unconventional. In the scene where they have pot, Kline’s Pete comes off truly impressive.
Mamie Gummer who in real life too is Meryl Streep’s daughter does a fine job. Her transition from being hostile and then softening up towards Linda’s character is impressive. In the last scene where her brother Josh is getting married and she has to walk down the aisle as a bridesmaid, Gummer’s breakdown looks so genuine that you actually feel the pain of her aching character, Julie.
Rick Springfield is a sight as the hot guitarist Greg with the salt and pepper look. The way his fingers move on that guitar, you can’t take your eyes off it.
Though Audra McDonald has a small role in the film, her dialogue as Maureen about raising Linda’s kids is extremely powerful.
Ricki And The Flash Review: Music, Direction
Jonathan Demme confuses his audience too much with what exactly he wants us to focus on. On one hand, the trailers and posters gave us a feel that the film was going to be about music and whole rockstar thing, it turns out to be a dramedy that even gets a Bollywood ending. Even though the director throws in the band performances at the bar every now and then, they are not shot with enough skill to make them appealing.
The songs are upbeat but the sheer look of it does not make it rocking. Also, not to mention, the smartest thing would have been to include performances that are short and a little agile on the pace but Demme’s montage of Greg and Linda’s love story stretches too long over a song, with equally uninteresting visuals, thus increasing run-time without much necessity.
The only scene important amongst their romantic journey is the time he confesses his love for her and the amazingly said dialogue, “It is not their (kids) job to love us, It is our job to love them”. The climax is designed so mawkishly that it loses the poignancy.
Ricki And The Flash Review: The Last Word
Ricki and The Flash is a scattered film. You enjoy it in bits and pieces but as a whole it turns out too corny to be true. Streep tries best to save this film with her effortless performance but lacks a little grit. I am going with a 2.5/5 for this film.
Ricki And The Flash Trailer
Ricki And The Flash releases on 28th August, 2015.
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