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It's time to check out Rickie and the Flash
Ricki and the Flash Poster
The Talented Ms. Streep
We have a confession to make. In 1979 we saw the Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep divorce drama, Kramer vs. Kramer, and immediately hated Streep (stay with us, kids, this will all make sense in a couple of sentences). Flash forward a decade or so, and several movies, and we slowly (ever so slowly) came to understand that it really wasn’t Streep that we didn’t like, it was that selfish Bitc# Joanna Kramer that had raised our ire all those years ago. This then, became a seminal moment for us when we suddenly realized what a powerfully adept actress Streep was; she had so immersed herself into the role of Joanna that we had actually forgotten that this was not who she really was, but a construct on film that she was playing. It was at the moment that we realized how talented she was.
Having said all of that, let’s talk about Streep’s latest outing, Ricki and the Flash where she plays the divorced mother of three adult children, and ex-wife of Pete (Kline), who is a very up-scale professional businessman living in Indiana. Meanwhile Ricki (nee: Linda), herself, is living her (abridged) life dream — which is to say that while she is living the life of Ricki (Streep) is the lead singer of a house band gigging out nights in a dive bar in Northern Cali while working days at a Total Food grocery store (and being overseen by a kid younger than her own adult children). Needless to say, even though she is responding to her own personal muse (by playing at being a rock star) she is basically living from paycheck to paycheck as she ekes out a living.
Ricki and the Flash trailer
This is a truly interesting film, as it is loaded with both a stadium full of music and live performances by Ricki and her back-up band, The Flash (featuring the amazing talents of Rick Springfield on lead guitar). Turns out that Greg (Springfield), really, really likes Ricki, but due to her own intimacy issues, Ricki has been keeping him at arm’s length. However it is the crises with her own family that causes Ricki to re-evaluate her own life choices and actually commit to a forward-moving course of action.
In spite of her meager existence, she seems happy with her life choices (this in spite of the fact that she abandoned her own children and family some 30 years earlier — given our opening paragraph, we have to wonder what it is about Streep’s characters and their issues with parenthood, but we digress). Even though she is estranged from her family, when her daughter, Julie (played by Streep’s real-life daughter Mamie Gummer) has a breakdown because her own husband walks out on their (short-lived) marriage to take up with another woman, and attempts suicide. This brings Ricki back from the coast to the heartland, which naturally causes something of a stir amongst the very uptight neighbors.
Ricki on stage
Streep the songtresss
The last (only) time we’ve see Streep singing was in the very off-kilter (but engagingly watchable) Mamma Mia (2008) film which was based on the eponymous play featuring the music of ABBA. At the time we had felt that while we did so enjoy not only Streep’s performance, but the film itself, was something of a guilty pleasure as neither Streep nor the rest of the cast were perhaps the best choices to feature in a musical as none of them were really known for that genre of film. Still, this time out of the gate, Streep did a truly wonderful job holding her own in the company of TV soap heartthrob and true rock-star Rick Springfield (whom we totally didn’t recognize ‘til the end of the film and the credits rolled).
Ultimately, this film is about love, redemption, second chances, and yes, even motherhood. Each of the characters in this film has their own flaws and foibles but truly, in the end, they are family — something each of them must determine on their own as they seek to find their own way through this morass we call life. So yes, this is a film that we did greatly enjoy not only the story and interplay between each of the characters, but the soundtrack and live-performed music as well (not just a few bars into each song then cutaway as films of this type are wont to do but actually fully-rendered songs, played all the way through to the end).