RICKI AND THE FLASH || 2015, USA || Drama || Directed by – Jonathan Demme / Written by – Diablo Cody / Produced by – Ronald M. Bozman, Rocco Caruso, Diablo Cody, H.H. Cooper, Gary Goetzman, Mason Novick, Marc Platt, Lorene Scafaria, Adam Siegel, Ben Waisbren / Cinematography – Declan Quinn / Editing by – Wyatt Smith / Production design – Stuart Wurzel / Starring – Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Mamie Gummer, Audra McDonald, Sebastian Stan, Ben Platt, Rick Springfield / Running time: 101 mins.
Jonathan Demme’s cinema is one that has been defined by music even when music was not especially one of its central narrative elements. In Ricki and the Flash, his sensibilities towards musicians provides a solid starting point for what is essentially, however, quite a straight forward and disappointingly inconsistent story about a mother who chose to chase her dreams of making it as a rockstar, to the point of giving up being a mother to her kids, who are now estranged.
The whole excercise seems autopiloted, predictable and cliche. It’s not necessarily dishonest, just downright unambitious and does nothing to give either a three dimensional portrayal of the character of a failed rock star, nor does it particularly update the usual stereotype of the estranged mother. The fact that one of her offsprings is having a breakdown, the other is a homosexual and the third is close to getting married is almost a lazy representation of this type of stereotypical type of plot.
Meryl Streep learned to play the guitar for the role, and occasionally looks like she is having fun playing her Ricki’s restrained anarchic and non-conformist behavious, struggling to adapt with having to conform as a supermarket clerk with her cartoonishly obnoxious boss. However, the reason why her character is so tough to penetrate is not necessarily due to her complexity, but more due to the trivial imperfections of her character development and the film’s overall volatile narrative arch.
One thing is for sure, Jonathan Demme has not lost his skill of filming exciting live music performances. In fact, the sequences that take place on the stage are very exciting. It is only when the story takes place away from it that the whole affair becomes widely unimpressive. – 2/5