Swanner: Meryl Streep plays Ricki, a woman who decided to ditch the family for the dream of rock ’n’ roll. Even though her dreams of the big time maybe over, now older, she regularly plays a watering hole in Tarzana California. Life is good for Ricki ’til she gets a call from her ex-husband telling of their daughter’s painful divorce, and asking Ricki to come back and help pick up the pieces. Kevin Kline, Rick Springfield, Audra McDonald and Mamie Gummer (Streep’s real life daughter) star.
The film is directed by Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) and written by Diablo Cody (Juno). The film is based on Cody’s own experience with her mother-in-law who followed her dream of rock ’n’ roll. In the film, Streep comes off like a Stevie Nicks/Joan Jett wannabe with braids and leather, so when she’s back in Indiana, with the family, she’s a fish out of water. But, Ricki knows no shame. Demme obviously wanted to show Streep as musical performer by having her perform constantly. I realize all the performances were performed live but enough is enough. This is where the film loses me. It’s not a musical, its a dreamy story about a family trying to heal from heartbreak; a mother’s abandonment and another broken marriage. Had the songs spoke more to the situation, more songs may have been appropriate, but full numbers throughout the film had me longing for Cody’s snappy dialog.
When the film is following the story, its a nice film about how shitty life can turn out, no matter how much money one might have; life sometimes just sucks. Still, there can and are great moments in life, if people leave themselves open to it. and that’s when Ricki and the Flash shines. The last 30 minutes are worth all the Springsteen and Dobie Gray we had to sit through.
Swanner: 2 1/2 stars