The Courier-Mail



What we have here is a pronounced case of “no Meryl Streep, no movie”.

Which is not to say there is much wrong with Ricki and the

Flash. However, it is another deeply immersive performanc­e from Streep that repeatedly lifts this bitterswee­t comedy-drama hybrid out of the doldrums.

Streep plays Ricki, a woman well on the wrong side of 50 who has made a lot of wrong choices along the way.

Once a wife and mother, Ricki ditched her family unit for a career in rock music that never took off.

Now she’s fronting a bar band a few nights a week, and staying a hair’s breadth above the poverty line by clocking on as a check-out chick at the local Whole Foods store.

While Ricki is indeed a commanding presence at the microphone — Streep’s earthy vocal performanc­es are a highlight throughout here — her unapologet­ic absence from the lives of her three children remains a problem that needs some serious fixing.

As scripted by writer Diablo Cody ( Juno) for veteran director Jonathan Demme, Ricki and the

Flash takes a while to ignite the one dramatic flashpoint it has in its storytelli­ng arsenal.

A personal crisis experience­d by Ricki’s daughter (played by Streep’s own daughter Mamie Gummer) forces the maladjuste­d muso’s ex-husband (Kevin Kline) to reluctantl­y put out a distress call.

Ricki answers as shambolica­lly as expected, but out of the chaos arrives a truly worthwhile moment of reckoning. With Streep maintainin­g the flow of the film in a forceful enough manner, a strong support cast (of which Rick Springfiel­d as Ricki’s sometime lover is a standout) is able to gradually make a lasting mark as well.

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