Say what you will about Diablo Cody, the stripper-turned-Oscar-winning- screenwriter of Juno and Young Adult – this lady has a way of bringing out the most endearing aspects of human relationships by describing the meanest, cruellest ways we treat one another. It’s the childlike frankness to her observations that make them so affecting. So yes, the plot she cooks up for this musical dramedy about an ageing rock star returning home to face the children she left behind years ago doesn’t always seem sound – the reconciliation between Ricki and Julie (real-life mother-daughter duo Streep and Gummer) feels oversimplified and the whole backstory of career-driven abandonment vaguely theatrical. But the ugliness of betrayal is real, the comfort of falling back into a familiar embrace is real, the simple kindness that tells us to keep up appearances and help make the wedding dance of a loved one perfect is very real. Directed with fluidity and featuring a virtuoso performance by Streep, this realness resounds. Underneath all the happy and regretful tunes, it seems to say: while we must live with the choices we make, as long as the music’s playing, we might as well enjoy the hell out of those choices.
Ricki and the Flash | Directed by Jonathan Demme (USA 2015) with Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Mamie Gummer. Starts September 3
Originally published in issue #141, September 2015.