Director: Jonathan Demme
Cast: Meryl Streep, Rick Springfield, Kevine Kline, Mamie Gummer
Watch Ricki and the Flash online in the UK: Netflix UK / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Google Play
The great Meryl Streep can get an Oscar nomination in her sleep. It’s a known fact about her – look it up, it’s science. Mysteriously, though, there’s a gap in her nomination resume for the year 2015-2016, where she briefly waved to a crowd in Suffragette, but mostly starred in Ricki And The Flash. It is without a doubt a criminal offence that such a nomination did not get thrown to her: Ricki And The Flash is a great film with a great Meryl Streep performance.
Streep plays an ageing lead singer to a small-time rock outfit that plays local bars in Los Angeles, mostly performing covers to a crowd of bored youths, slightly-into-it older patrons and bartenders who are just trying to live from tip to tip. However, when her old life calls, by way of her daughter (played by real-life Streep junior Mamie Gummer) almost killing herself after a failed relationship, Ricki packs up her guitar and her crazy dream to return to the suburbs, and ex-husband Pete (Kline in a stuck-up-but-also-Kevin-Kline-ey role). Can she adjust to the simple life for even a small period of time? Is her Los Angeles life really going anywhere? Can she aid the daughter who hates the sight of her? Will she and lead guitarist Greg (an excellent Springfield) figure out the sparks that fly?
Ricki and The Flash starts off slow but reveals layer upon layer of human dynamics between every additional character that walks into frame, all of it told with passion, humour and surprisingly to-the-bone dialogue from Oscar winner Diablo Cody. With a humanist portrait from the late, great Jonathan Demme as director, the film soars, even when it veers close to melodrama. Ricki and The Flash is an overlooked gem of a film, one that will stick with you long after the credits finish, with great music, funny lines, heartbreaking scenes and beautifully realised characters. It is testament to the career of Demme that this wasn’t mentioned much when he recently passed, because his catalogue of work is so strong, but this is one heck of a last film to leave us with. Streep is at the top of her game, Kline is a great scene partner for her throughout, and Gummer, especially, brings the thunder, as she and Streep rub personalities against one another.
Ricki and The Flash may not be the feel-good comedy of the year – in fact, at times, it makes you very sad – but it’s a brilliantly made, well-wishing film about dreams, about hope, about humanity in various forms, and deserves a lot more attention than it originally got. It may, perhaps, be too underplayed for many, but if you’re a fan of Cody’s Young Adult, you’ll love the similar vibe, albeit with a completely different, far more sympathetic lead.
Ricki And The Flash is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.
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