Ricki and the Flash | Film review - Meryl's bar-band singer is a blast

Ricki and the Flash Meryl Streep .jpg
(Image credit: Bob Vergara)

Get Ready to Rock. Get Ready to Love. Get Ready for Ricki.

Bedecked in black leather jacket, ratty braids and bad tattoos, Meryl Streep is a blast in Ricki and the Flash, an engaging comedy-drama about a bar-band singer who gets drawn back into the lives of the family she abandoned to pursue her musical dreams.

Those dreams didn’t exactly work out for Streep’s ageing rock chick Ricki Rendazzo. She now works on the checkout of an upmarket California food-store and plays in a local bar with her band The Flash, alongside lead guitarist and long-suffering boyfriend Greg (Rick Springfield).

Ricki And The Flash Kevin Kline Mamie Gummer.jpg

(Image credit: Bob Vergara)

"Surprisingly moving climax"

Then her starchy ex-husband Pete (Kevin Kline) calls her back to her Indiana hometown to help her depressed daughter, Julie (Mamie Gummer, Streep’s real-life daughter), cope with the break up of her marriage. The stony broke Ricki couldn’t be more out of place in the affluent gated community where Pete lives with his second wife (Audra McDonald) and she is initially greeted with hostility by Julie and her equally estranged sons Josh and Adam (Sebastian Stan, Nick Westrate).

How Ricki and her family work out their differences proves amusing and touching by turn, although it has to be said that screenwriter Diablo Cody (Juno, Young Adult) and director Jonathan Demme (maker of classic concert movie Stop Making Sense) do take the edge off the story’s rawest emotions.

It’s the musical numbers that are the film’s main pleasures, belted out with gutsy fervour by Streep, who learned to play electric guitar for the role and tears through a string of rock classics, including Tom Petty’s ‘American Girl’, U2’s ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ and, in the story’s storming and surprisingly moving climax, Bruce Springsteen’s ‘My Love Will Not Let You Down’.

Certificate 12. Runtime 97 mins. Director Jonathan Demme

Ricki and the Flash is available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital Download from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and debuts today on Sky Movies Premiere.


Jason Best

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.