Urban Cinefile  
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Sunday July 12, 2020 


SYNOPSIS: Ricki (Meryl Streep) is a rock-musician who gave up everything for her dream of rock-and-roll stardom with her band, The Flash. When her daughter Julie (Mamie Gummer) becomes distraught after learning her husband wants a divorce, Ricki returns to Indianapolis to be with her, her former husband (Kevin Kline) and her two sons.

Review by Louise Keller:
There is something totally compelling about Ricki and The Flash, with its piercing insights into relationships, soulful music and a knock-out Meryl Streep as a sixty something rock-chick. Oscar-winner Diablo Cody's (Juno) sparkling screenplay scratches beneath the surface to dig up gritty relationship issues in a dysfunctional family, while director Jonathan Demme embraces the material with affection, allowing a natural flow of pathos, humour, angst and drama to rhythmically filter through.

The film starts innocuously with a tap of a black block-heeled boot before revealing the members of The Flash, the band that Ricki (Streep) fronts as they get stuck into Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' 1977 American Girl. They are playing in a low-key LA bar with a small, but enthusiastic audience. Ricki declares herself to be a proud American Girl and her patter simply flows - mixing up the music with the personal. Her hair is braided and she looks the part - with tattoos, silver chains and chunky rings. The music cooks and there's no faking the sound with Rick Springfield on electric guitar and seasoned pros on bass, keyboard and drums. It's no surprise that Streep can sing or play the guitar - over the years we have learned she can do everything. Onstage, Ricki not so coyly refers to her offstage relationship with Greg (Springfield); their relationship is affectionate but not without its prickles.

Streep's characterization is perfect, allowing her Ricki to be unapologetic for who she is to her conservative family in Indianapolis. She is like a fish out of water when she arrives at Pete's (Kevin Kline) grand home with not a dime in her pocket to even pay for the cab. Kline is the epitome of understatement, comfortable in the elegance of his large home complete with pond, pool, dog and all the spoils. The fact that Streep's real life daughter Mamie Gummer plays her onscreen troubled daughter Julie, about to get divorced, is an added delight. Unsurprisingly, the dynamic between Streep and Gummer is electric. Initial hostilities soon dissolve into some kind of normality but don't relax too soon. Watch out for the restaurant scene when the whole family finally gets together - the dialogue is biting as relationships. It all feels so real - and I love the conversation between Ricki and Pete's second wife (Audra McDonald) as well as the dinner-time conversation about upcoming nuptials and sexuality.

Filled with wonderful moments, the film opens up like a beautiful flower, the petals becoming larger and warmer as the exposition progresses. Music forms the heart of it all, culminating in a satisfying finale when all breaks loose on the dance floor. Embracing what is real, the film exudes joy, honesty and truth - all delivered with musicality, rhythm and heart.

Email this article

Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

(US, 2015)

CAST: Meryl Streep, Mamie Gummer, Sebastian Stan, Rick Springfield, Kevin Kline, Ben Platt

PRODUCER: Mason Novick, Mar Platt

DIRECTOR: Jonathan Demme

SCRIPT: Diablo Cody


EDITOR: Wyatt Smith

MUSIC: Not credited


RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes



Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020