Ricki and the Flash (2015) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

Ricki and the Flash (2015) Directed by Jonathan Demme. With Meryl Streep, Rick Springfield, Kevin Kline and Mamie Gummer. 

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Jonathan Demme directs Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline to a script written by Diablo Cody…what’s not to like!? It’s reported that Cody penned the screenplay to be loosely based on her own stepmother who fronted a New Jersey bar band for many years. The film shares DNA with Dan Fogelman’s Danny Collins, in which Al Pacino played an ageing rock star attempting to build bridges to his broken past. In a way, Ricki and the Flash is the exact same experience, albeit with a few extra grains of sugar on the spoon.

The rock n’ roll scene is littered with remnants of broken dreams. Anyone able to string together three guitar chords and belt out a Beatles tune (in tune) is likely to have deluded themselves by swallowing gallons of grandeur at some stage in their lives. Getting good on an instrument like the guitar buys you a lot of social acceptance, and it’s not long before that morphs into your personality to make the guitar neck feel like an extra arm. This, in some way, describes Ricki’s backstory. She’s a woman who has at some point believed she’d share a stage with the likes Springsteen and Petty. But in chasing that dream, her family got left behind.

At first sight, it’s surprising to meet Streep decked out like an 1980’s throwback, complete with leggings, long boots and ratty braids, while chugging out Tom Petty’s American Girl in a cobbled together, backstreet bar band. After only a few chords, it’s apparent that Streep is either the real deal, or, as is usually the case, has the natural ability to convince us she is the real deal. It’s a long stretch from Margaret Thatcher, but then, Streep is the ultimate chameleon, an actress able to inhabit any role and show us something new.

While it might not immediately jump out as anything particularly remarkable, there are many interesting facets to the tale, which are given life by Streep’s presence. There are fine supporting performances here too, not least Mamie Gummer as Ricki’s estranged daughter (she’s Streep’s real-life daughter too), which lends the film a small slice of authenticity. Praise must also go to Rick Springfield (remember the song Jessie’s Girl?), who plays lead guitar and boyfriend to Ricki. Springfield not only rocks, he is a rock to Ricki, and we can easily surmise, to Meryl Streep too, given his vast experience on the rock circuit.

While Ricki and the Flash won’t exactly rock your world, it offers enough to keep your toe tapping along to the beat. Although it regularly succumbs to cliché, sometimes that’s exactly what we’re in the mood for. 3.5/5

 

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About garethrhodes

Full-time lover of all things creative.
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10 Responses to Ricki and the Flash (2015) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

  1. Writergurlny says:

    I enjoyed this movie, I don’t know why so many people disliked it.

    • garethrhodes says:

      I agree on that. Sure, it’s nothing to get too excited about, but there’s enough going on. I particularly enjoyed Rick Springfield. His character could’ve had his own movie.

  2. I loved this film. There are some great performances. Nice review.

  3. This is a really god review, this looks like my kind of film and I can’t believe I missed it when it first came out.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Thank you. It’s got a lot of individual things in it that I like. I’ve been a guitarist and a singer in bands, and I know what it feels like to have dreams and expectations, only to realise success in that world is based on a lot of elements beyond your control.

  4. Very well-written review man! I did think Streep was amazing but the script was lacking. It needed more scenes with the family interacting and airing their laundry.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Thank you, my friend, I did find a few things here that I could relate to, having done the rounds in bar bands myself. I agree with you on your point, though, there could have been more meat on the bones.

  5. Meryl Streep is no doubt a very versatile artiste!! I haven’t seen this movie, but seems worth checking out for her performance alone!! Nice Write-up!!

    • garethrhodes says:

      Thank you, it helps if like me, you have an affinity for those blue collar bar bands, akin to Springsteen, Bon Jovi and Tom Petty. It’s amazing to me how Streep can transform and meld into a world that is clearly alien to her.

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