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Ricki and the Flash examines many dynamic ideas surrounding personal flaws, growth, love and family.

Pam-Marie Guzzo | Interrobang | Lifestyles | September 14th, 2015

What would you give up to follow your dream: your significant other, your home or your kids? In Ricki and the Flash, Meryl Streep plays a musician who dropped everything years ago to pursue her passion. Called back to Indiana by her ex-husband to help fix their daughter, the movie explores the complexities between trying to be what others need you to be while staying true to who you are.

Appealing to an odd demographic of rock fans with enough life experience and personal flaws to relate to the main character, Ricki and the Flash does many things well. One of the greatest triumphs of the movie is its beautiful portrayal of diversity.

The cast features a wide range of individuals without making a big deal over anyone’s sexuality or ethnic background. When Ricki awkwardly brings up these issues, it’s much more about exposing her ignorance and showing her as a flawed human being.

Never, even when angry with the children’s African-American stepmother Maureen – played by Audra McDonald –, does Ricki use ethnicity- based insults or hate speech. When she does make politically incorrect comments, the discomfort of those around her is shown and they make a point of either correcting her or trying to make the person it is directed at more comfortable.

The director, Jonathan Demme, has to be credited for his fantastic understanding of dramatic timing. There are several tender and emotional moments that most directors would cut away from in the interest of runtime. Demme lets these moments play out, giving the audience time to process and understand the complex emotions of the characters. Even with these extended scenes, the movie never drags.

A big part of Ricki and the Flash is the music, consisting largely of rock covers. Meryl Streep is a talented singer in her own right, with an impressive range and the ability to infuse her voice with emotion. She’s paired with Rick Springfield, best known for “Jessie’s Girl” and the chemistry between the two of them is incredible to watch.

With its amazing casting and music, there is only one problem someone might run into when watching the movie: Ricki. While those viewers with a wild streak are likely to relate to her, the average person may have a hard time understanding her life choices and forgiving her for abandoning her children.

Her personal growth throughout the movie is shown well, but she remains, to the end, a broken and flawed human being. This makes her more beautiful in many ways, more realistic than most characters we ever see on the big screen, but also removes some of the fantasy element we often expect from movies.

Overall, Ricki and the Flash is an incredible examination of family dynamics, personal flaws, growth and love. This is a movie for us damaged people who are trying to make things right while embracing who we are. It reminds us to look at each other with compassion and understanding, even when doing so is difficult.
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