Ricki and the Flash (directed by Jonathan Demme) 2015.

with Meryl Streep, Rick Springfield, Kevin Kline, Mamie Gummer, and Audra McDonald.


The theater I was in has a clock at the front, to the left of the screen.  After about an hour, I kept looking at the time, thinking surely hours had passed by, when in fact, time was ticking very slowly.

Ricki (Meryl Streep), a singer in a rock band, feels guilty or realizes that she should have felt guilty, for leaving behind her three children in order to forge her career as a rock musician.  She learns from Pete (Kevin Kline),  her ex husband, that their daughter Julie (Mamie Gummer), recently married and quickly separated from her husband, is suffering a breakdown.  She might need the care of her mother.

There is something slightly soapy about the setup. Streep’s life as a moderately talented rocker with a regular band that seems to have a loyal following just does not make me care. Due to lack of engagement in the story, I concentrated on superficial details, like  why did she wear that awful eye makeup?  Did they have to style her hair in such an unflattering way?  When Ricki finally coaxes her daughter to get her hair cut and washed after several days of neglecting herself, all I could think was, yes and get your hair fixed too because it looks ghastly.  Is this something left over from the 80s?   If something more meaningful were presented, I think I might have focused on that.

There are some intermittent grace notes for instance, when Streep took off her makeup and it seemed to be saying much more about the character than we ever learned up to that point.   An argument in the coffee shop featured a cameo by Bill Irwin getting sniffy about having so little time with his kid.  I wish we could have followed him for a bit.   Rick Springfield came across as a decent human being and a genuine musician who could really play the guitar.

But in the end there is all of that music.  When Streep sang in Postcards from the Edge, I felt her liberating herself from an image of herself limited to acting.  But in Ricki, the songs are not to her advantage, and they drag the story down, when the story is already  a slog.  By the ending which should come as a boost, there was that clock again.  I could not believe it had only been one hour and forty minutes.  I expect more from Demme and was disappointed.



About Patricia Markert

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