August 28, 2015 6:19:39 pm
Writer Diablo Cody did an effortless job of exploring womanhood and motherhood, and how the two mingled, in Juno. Here, with Meryl Streep playing a middling musician who leaves her children to pursue a career, she struggles.
Somewhere inside Ricki And The Flash there is a concept, of the idea of a conventional mother and what happens to a woman who doesn’t conform. It struggles to peep through the many different things that are going on here — Ricki’s (Streep) band and its songs, Ricki and her relationship with the lead guitarist (Springfield), Ricki’s depressive daughter Julie (Gummer) and her problems, and Ricki’s ties with the woman who has actually raised her children.
Streep floats through the many roles as a woman who apparently sees all, and is seen by none, though that’s not how the viewers may feel. The veteran actor seems to realise that too, given the number of times her eyes well up and she does that hand-on-mouth trick. What she really nails is the singing, with the stage performances, even in that small bar, reverberating with genuine enthusiasm.
The other time the film hits genuine notes is in Ricki’s encounter with Maureen (Audra McDonald), the new mother of her children. The scene is brimming over with bitterness, anger and resentment — all hiding behind shiny smiles. But again Demme moves on before the two can actually enter confrontational ground.
Gummer, Streep’s own daughter, doesn’t have much to do, and neither does Kline as Pete, Ricki’s ex-husband. Unlike Ricki, Pete doesn’t appear to have done too badly for himself either in terms of money or new marriage.
When the film gets too light even for its own sake, Cody brings out politics, with a disgruntled son noting that Ricki, despite “all her coolness”, voted for George W Bush twice. Ricki also compares heart to a Big Mac, “that never spoils”. The wedding that rounds up the film is an all-green affair, with cards that can be planted into the ground, a fact Ricki and her guitariast beau silently snigger over.
However, even with another son who is gay thrown in, none of that amounts to anything either.
Cast: Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Mamie Gummer, Rick Springfield
Director: Jonathan Demme
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