Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Mamie Gummer (Streep’s real life daughter), Rick Springfield. Drama/comedy/music. Written by Diablo Cody (Juno, Young Adult). Directed by Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia).
FILM SYNOPSIS: A musician who gave up everything for her dream of rock-and-roll stardom returns home, looking to make things right with her wounded family. The husband has been remarried for years to a black woman, who has raised the children. The daughter has attempted suicide. And one son is gay. This is all used as fodder for laughs and tears.
PREVIEW REVIEW: Having an artistic nature can be a curse, perhaps even more so if your talent is marginal. You struggle along, determined, headstrong, and tunnel-visioned, because you are the only cheerleader you have. I know of where I speak. Whether it’s music, acting, or writing, the artistic person enters the fray, along with thousands of other hopefuls who once heard Sinatra sing, or saw Brando act, or read Hemingway. These hopefuls have connected with the abilities of their idols and pray that they can also find success and acceptance.
It would be too simple to call it ego or narcissism that motivates the artistic one. After all, most who succeeded in their chosen fields had no idea how their talent would affect the world. Did their childhood friends say to them you’re going to be the biggest star the world has ever known? Most likely not. But Sinatra gave us All or Nothing At All, Brando created Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront and Hemingway wrote a short story in six words:
My point, those with an artistic nature just have to try. And try. And try. But sacrifices are made throughout all that trying. And usually those who pay the dearest price are the ones who live with those who hope they are anointed.
Sadly, even those blessed by the entertainment gods eventually come to the realization that while their talent may be paramount to the world, it ultimately doesn’t satisfy their own soul. Do the stars and creators of Ricki and the Flash understand this? I’d say yes, to a point.
This film relies on people understanding, forgiving and accepting, but only from an Earthly perspective. Certainly I didn’t expect a religious solution to be presented by the film’s star, the director or their writer, each of whom I respect, but I couldn’t help think upon leaving the theater that if there was to be a sequel, we’d find our protagonists still struggling with their emotions and their place in the world. They look to man to find reason and contentment, never to God.
DVD Alternatives: Friendly Persuasion. Unforgettable Gary Cooper tour de force. But then, everything about this picture is unforgettable. Charming portrayal of a Quaker family caught in the Civil War conflict. Witty, touching and lovely theme song.
Tender Mercies. Robert Duvall as a country singer on the skids who turns his life around, with the help of a religious widow and her son. PG (A few profanities are heard from the male lead in an opening scene, but a Christian woman has an effect on his life and it is revealed that he becomes a Christian. He stops drinking and swearing and becomes a more contemplative and compassionate person).
It’s a Wonderful Life. It just may be the most important film Hollywood ever produced. James Stewart’s George Bailey is given the opportunity to see what his community would have been like if he had never been born. Director Frank Capra reminds us that our compassion and responsibility make a difference in the lives of those with whom we come in contact. The things we say and do affect the lives of others. Hard to top that message.
A Christmas Carol. Scrooge lost his dear love in pursuit of wealth and prominence. When he realizes this, thanks to three visiting spirits, he changes his life, finding peace in serving others.