“Gangs of New York” was a great movie; the scale of which has not been seen since films like “Spartacus” and “Gone with the Wind.” With giant sets and casts of thousands in obsessively detailed costumes, it was an homage to the epics of the early 20th century.
But because it was directed by Martin Scorsese, who also helmed greater films such as “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull,” it felt incomplete; almost mediocre. If “Gangs of New York” were to be made by a lesser director, it would have been one of their greatest achievements.
I bring this up because Meryl Streep is arguably one of the greatest actors of the modern era. With groundbreaking performances in “Sophie’s Choice,” “Kramer vs. Kramer,” “The Devil Wears Prada” and so much more, her performance in “Ricki and the Flash” seems to only be a minor work for a great artist. Not to say that it was bad, only that if any other actor of Streep’s age were to be Ricki, it would be the part of a lifetime. If say Sigourney Weaver or Annette Bening where to be Ricki, I believe it would be a career changing performance. It almost feels like Streep was cast simply because they were able to cast her. But I digress.
Streep plays Ricki, a rocker the likes of which I have only seen in small venues in Midtown. This kind of musician is the kind that simply wants to rock on no matter who’s watching. One day her ex-husband Peter (Kevin Kline) calls and says that their daughter Julie’s (Mamie Gummer) fiancé walked out on her and that she needs to come home. From here my interest faded which is not a good sign.
“Ricki and The Flash” is directed by Jonathan Demme (“Silence of the Lambs”) and written by the very funny and quick Diablo Cody (“Juno”). Somehow this mixture of Streep, Demme and Cody didn’t come out as the introduction to Oscar Season but instead as a cool closer for the summer season of movies.
There isn’t anything inherently wrong with the film. It’s cast is near perfect with the lovely Audra McDonald playing Peter’s new wife who believes that she has to fill the void that Ricki left for her children. Streep’s real-life daughter Mamie Gummer has perfect screen chemistry with her mother, which leads to the point that the cast mix well with each other. However, it just doesn’t possess the wow factor that would lead to anyone to rave positively about it.
On another note, I would like to hear Streep sing more classic rock.