Bite Size: Ricki and the Flash (2015)

  • Director – Jonathon Demme
  • Starring – Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Mamie Gummer
  • Writer – Diablo Cody
  • Year – 2015
  • Running Time – 101 mins

ricki_flash_2-xlarge

Meryl Streep gets behind the mike once more in this foot-tapping tale of Ricki, the lead singer, of a house band (The Flash), who returns home after the break up of her daughter Julie’s marriage, to face what has been left behind in her search for rock and roll stardom.

The key strength of Ricki and the Flash is its authenticity. The bar feels like a real bar (you know, how they used to be), you can feel the rough and ripped plastic of the bar stools, the saltiness of the bar snacks, and hell, even the sawdust under your feet. Then the band takes the stage, and Ricki and the Flash feel and sound like an authentic house band – grungy, loud and you know, not great, but fun.

Family, personal decisions and their consequences take centre stage.  The fractious relationships between Ricki and Julie, played wonderfully by Streep’s real life daughter, Mamie Gummer, and her ex-husband Pete (Kevin Kline), ground and anchor the film. Their exchanges are both raw and bitter, while also touching and at times tenderly funny.

The narrative unfolds in a predictable, yet engaging way, with Diablo Cody’s usual whip smart dialogue in abundance; though helped on this time by some rousing and emotionally fuelled musical performances, thanks in part to the impressive Rick Springfield. Things get a tad heavy-handed towards the end, but by that point all involved have fully earned it and you suddenly realise just how invested you are, in both the family and the Flash. Encore!

★★★★

Review by Will Malone

If you liked Ricki and the Flash, then try Rock of Ages.