Recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, Ricki and The Flash stars Mery. Streep as Ricki, a rock singer who attempts to reconnect with her daughter Julie (Mami Gummer) who is heartbroken over the breakup of her marriage.
Ricki is used to carving out her own path in life, and her determination to make it in the music industry has led to understandable resentment from her three children (Gummer, Sebastian Stan, and Nick Westrate). Kevin Kline also stars as Ricki’s responsible ex-husband Pete, with Audra McDonald playing Pete’s wife.
Though the movie received its share of mixed reviews upon its release, Ricki and the Flash has its share of strong aspects. Thanks to able direction from Jonathan Demme and solid performances from the cast, the flick is worth a look (especially if you’re a Streep fan).
Here’s a few reasons why I loved Ricki and the Flash:
- Ricki And The Flash’s Music Is Memorable…And Live!
Meryl Streep learned rhythm guitar in preparation for Ricki and The Flash, as director Jonathan Demme wanted the film’s music to be performed live. Demme’s love for shooting documentaries (two of them were Neil Young films, another spotlighted Jimmy Carter) may be the huge reason why he decided to add an organic sense of reality to the movie’s “musical numbers.”
The picture also features “Cold One,” a track penned by Jenny Lewis and Johnathan Rice. The musicians previously collaborated with Demme on the Anne Hathaway headlined feature Song One (which Demme produced). “Cold One” is performed acoustically the film’s middle section and during the closing moments of the film, it’s given a rocked out version by “Ricki and the Flash.”
Also if you want to check out Streep sing Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” or a resonant version of Bruce Springsteen’s “My Love Will Not Let You Down,” it’s right there for the taking with Ricki and The Flash.
2. Rick Springfield Gives A Surprisingly Moving Performance
I’ve never seen Rick Springfield’s run on General Hospital or Hard to Hold,l but I did check out his work (playing a version of himself) in Californication and his scene stealing turn in True Detective, so I knew Springfield has his share of acting chops.
Meryl Streep has never given a throw away performance, and she’s at the top of her game once again with Ricki and the Flash. Thus, the surprising element behind the film is Springfield, who proves, in subtle fashion, to be the heart and soul of the story. as Greg, Ricki’s loving boyfriend and loyal band member.
While Ricki’s devil may care attitude causes its share of drama with her family and also draws a decent crowd at her band’s local club (the fictitious Tarzana, Ca. watering hole the Salt Well), it’s Greg who holds everything together and keeps Ricki grounded. Springfield proves to be a more than worth partner for Streep in the film, and as the actress accurately states in the Blu-ray’s featurette, Springfield should get more work thanks to his performance in Ricki and the Flash.
3. The Picture Isn’t A Cookie Cutter Comedy-Drama
Kudos to writer Diablo Cody (Juno) and director Jonathan Demme for taking us on an unexpected journey, as Ricki and the Flash could have been a by the numbers story of an aging rocker (Streep) who slowly but surely reconnects with her estranged family.
Instead, the narrative doesn’t go for the overly sentimental moment, and when Ricki gives a heartfelt speech during one of the movie’s most resonant scene, it feels completely earned.
The average storyteller would have placed Ricki as a fish out of water musician who bonds with her children while living in the upper class, Indiana neighborhood of her ex-husband (Kevin Kline) and second wife (Audra McDonald). The storyline, however, shifts midstream and gives us a deeper insight into Ricki and Greg’s relationship, as she heads back home to the San Fernando Valley to resume her life.
Detractors of the movie may complain of this section of the movie, as its 101 minutes could possibly have been pared down to a 90 minute story. I loved Cody’s narrative left-turn and Demme’s openness to let the story breathe.
Special Features: The Blu-ray contains deleted scenes (most of which includes an airport security scene) and the two featurettes “Rediscovering Rick Springfield” and “Getting Ready for Ricki: The Making of Ricki and the Flash.” The featurettes contain interviews with Jonathan Demme, Diablo Cody, Meryl Streep, and Rick Springfield.
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