Watch This: Ricki and the Flash

I spent the first thirty minutes of this movie expecting to hate it. To be honest, the only reason that I turned it on was to see Meryl Streep playing a rockstar (her rendition of Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’ five minutes in was worth it) but the premise of the movie didn’t sit well with me.

Essentially, the idea behind the movie seems to be, an ageing wannabe rockstar, Ricki Rendazzo, attempts to reconnect with her family after years of abandonment. Coming from a difficult family background, I wasn’t really up for liking Ricki. She was the devil, end of story. Certainly, the first half of the movie makes her look that way. But that’s not actually what this movie is really about or what its trying to say.

The first half of the movie presents Ricki as her “abandoned” family see her. The second half, on the other hand, gives Ricki a chance to explain herself. A chance to make the point of the movie. Ricki and the Flash is not about a woman selfishly abandoning her family; it is about a woman’s fight to be herself.

Two particular scenes stand out for me. First, the scene where Ricki is confronted by her ex-husband’s new wife, Maureen. In this scene, two women who inhabit very different worlds blame each other for the faults in their family. To Maureen, Ricki should never have left her kids at such a young age – where Maureen had to pick up the slack. To Ricki, Maureen’s example as the more “ideal” mother made it almost impossible for her to compete for her children’s attention after she moved to LA to pursue her music career. Ricki maintains her facade of strength and toughness until after Maureen leaves. It is then that we see how Ricki has sacrificed in order to live as her authentic self and how her family has shunned her for it.

The second scene that I loved is right at the end of the movie when Ricki attends her son’s wedding. It is clear from the outset that she is an outsider as the other guests murmur behind her back. However, Ricki gets up on stage and, as her son’s wedding present, performs a song with her band. The song is out of place, she is out of place, but in that moment she is giving herself to her family, her true self. And everyone gets up to dance in an offer of acceptance.

It is really hard to stand up in this world and choose to be exactly who we truly are inside. Often we are not accepted for it, as Ricki and the Flash shows, and it takes an incredible amount of courage to fly in the face of convention. This movie beautifully depicts one woman’s imperfect attempt at living an authentic life. A difficult pursuit but one that I wholeheartedly admire.

Plus, it’s Meryl Streep playing a rockstar. If I haven’t sold you on the inner message, that factor really should.


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