Ricki and the Flash: Female-centred film smartly avoids wishful fantasy

Photo still from the movie Ricki and the Flash

A rock star (Meryl Streep) tries to make amends with the family she abandoned to pursue fame in this Diablo Cody-penned, Jonathan Demme-directed dramedy. Ricki steps in to help her daughter Julie (Mamie Gummer) overcome depression, then finds the courage to attend her son’s wedding, even though no one wants her there.

The ensuing litany of awkward conversations between estranged rock-mom and straitlaced family members doesn’t lead to any definitive redemption for Ricki’s lifetime of neglect – the movie smartly avoids wishful fantasy. However, charged emotional moments that suggest the changing-for-the-better family’s dynamic are frequently slighted or rushed in favour of the film’s less messy, more entertaining narrative devices, such as Cody’s snarky, humorous dialogue and Demme’s fine-tuned eye for live musical performance.

Regardless of its flimsy emotional interior, Ricki is a worthy addition in this year’s growing canon of strong female-centred films, and it would be wise to remember Streep’s stunning performance come awards season.