Ricki and the Flash
Directed by Johnathan Demme
Written by Diablo Cody
Starring: Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Mamie Gummer, Audra McDonald, Sebastian Stan, and Rick Springfield
Ricki and the Flash is an aging musician Ricki (Streep) who many years prior had walked out on her family to pursue her musical dreams. However, a call from her ex-husband (Kline) to come back to Indiana to help their daughter (Gummer) through a rough time just might be an opportunity for Ricki to set things right. Ricki and the Flash is a heartwarming family drama that features strong performances, a great soundtrack, and even though there are some issues with the structure, a good script.
Firstly, Ricki and the Flash is the kind of film that is only as good as the performances in the movie. The performances in Ricki are top notch. Streep is excellent (surprise, surprise), she sells the mother-daughter relationship between her and Gummer. The fact that Streep and Gummer happen to be mother and daughter certainly helps the relationship between their characters feel that much more real. Not only does Streep do her singing in the film, but she also learned how to play guitar for this part so, she is playing the guitar. The supporting cast in the movie Kline, Gummer, Stan, etc. also delivered strong performances throughout the movie, even with the limited screen presence for much of the supporting cast.
Secondly, the soundtrack was fantastic. It featured mostly covers, and no, “Jessie’s Girl” was not one of them. You would have thought that the producers would have thrown Springfield a bone with that one right. The strongest part of the soundtrack was that during the toast that Ricki gives at her son’s wedding, she mentions that she may not have been the best mother. So, she decides to give her son the only thing she can, her music. At which point she dedicates the song, Bruce Springsteen’s “My Love Will Not Let You Down”, to her son. This song perfectly ties together the themes of the movie. Earlier in the film, there is a conversation between Ricki and Greg (Springfield), in which Greg says something to the effect of it does not matter if your children hate you, it is not their job to love you, but it is your job to love them. Between what she had said in the wedding toast and the dedication of “My Love Will Not Let You Down” Ricki is telling her son that she knows she was not the best mother, but that does not matter. All that matters is that she is his mom, and well, her love will not let him down. It ended up being this great, touching moment.
However, the film is not without its flaws. That is that there is a structural issue with the movie. The film as a family drama works, and it works well. The relationship between Ricki and her family is well developed. However, the part of the movie that takes place between Ricki leaving Indiana and then returning for her son’s wedding is where the issue lies. The film shifts from a family drama to a Ricki character piece. There is a quickly developed love story between Ricki and Greg, which while hinted at during the setup of Ricki’s character, was rushed into when it was implemented. Frankly, aside from the conversation that takes place between Ricki and Greg where he tells her that it is not her children’s job to love her. Most of what happens in this part of the movie could have been quickly placed in during Ricki’s setup at the start of the film.
Overall, Ricki and the Flash is a family drama that is heartfelt, touching and benefits from excellent performances and a great soundtrack. While the script is a strong one, it does have some structural issues that are detrimental to the film overall. Ricki and the Flash receives a 3.5/5.