Well, Meryl Streep hits another one out of the ballpark with her latest performance in “Ricki and the Flash,” directed by Jonathan Demme. Streep plays an aging rock musician, named Ricki Rendazzo, who never quite made it big, but continues to perform in a small club at night while working at a grocery store by day to make ends meet. Her real name is Linda, but years earlier she abandoned that persona, along with her husband Pete, played by Kevin Kline, and three young children, to pursue her dream of being a rock star in California. When ex-husband Pete calls to inform her that their daughter Julie, played by Streep’s real-life daughter Mamie Gummer in a convincing performance, has had a nervous breakdown after her husband leaves her for another woman, Linda flies to Indianapolis to try and help her estranged daughter. Julie doesn’t exactly welcome her mother with open arms, nor do Linda’s two sons Joshua and Daniel. There’s a cringeworthy scene when Linda, Pete, their three children and Joshua’s fiance Emily gather for an extremely awkward dinner at an upscale restaurant. In due course, Linda has a confrontation with Pete’s current wife Maureen, beautifully played by the talented broadway star Audra McDonald. The film has a somewhat predictible but totally satisfying ending at the marriage of Joshua and Emily.
Throughout the film are several scenes of Ricki and her band The Flash performing in a small nightclub, mostly singing covers of other bands’ songs. Streep does all her own singing and even plays guitar, and singer Rick Springfield turns in a rather good and authentic performance as her bandmate and sometime love interest Greg. There is real chemistry between them, onstage and off. There are a few moments when the film could have become bogged down by cliche, but the strong acting performances by the entire cast keep it credible. Streep’s and Springfield’s musical performances are pretty enjoyable to watch too.