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dir Phyllida Lloyd
scr Catherine Johnson
with Meryl Streep, Julie Walters, Christine Baranski, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård, Amanda Seyfried, Dominic Cooper, Ashley Lilley, Rachel McDowall, Philip Michael, Juan Pablo Di Pace
release UK 4.Jul.08, US 18.Jul.08
08/UK Universal 1h49
Diggin' the dancing queen: Baranski, Streep and Walters
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
A willingness to completely embrace the campness of Abba music is what makes this film so much fun. And this film is so sunny that it should crack through any cynicism. Of course, it helps to have an A-list cast singing their hearts out.
Donna (Streep) has lived on the Greek island of Kalokairi for 20 years, ever since her daughter Sophie (Seyfried) was born. Now Sophie's marrying her boyfriend (Cooper), but behind Donna's back, she's invited the three men who might be her father: New York businessman Sam (Brosnan), London banker Harry (Firth) and adventurer Bill (Skarsgård). And they all come to see Donna, who they were in love with one fateful summer. Meanwhile, Donna's best mates and former girl-group partners (Walters and Baranski) also arrive, so there's definitely music in the air.
Director Lloyd and writer Johnson cleverly take their musical off the stage and onto a gorgeous Aegean island, making the most of rocky landscapes, local architecture, glorious blue seas and colourful locals who make up the, erm, Greek chorus. Sure, the story is farcical and silly, and the songs are sometimes worked into the narrative with a knowing wink, but the film oozes infectious energy.
The divine Streep throws herself into the raucous physicality, including impressive dance choreography, jaw-dropping trampoline moves and a perfect cannonball. She also uses her impeccable comic timing, expressive singing voice and skill at creating powereful drama (The Winner Takes It All is Oscar-worthy). And her scenes with Walters and Baranski crackle with improvised hilarity. Meanwhile, the boys are thoroughly engaging. Brosnan's first musical number is such a shock that it elicits giggles, but he definitely reclaims his dignity. None of the cast are professional singers, but even the occasional wobbly note can't dampen the spirits. Especially when all the songs are so timeless.
The best numbers are the get-out-of-your-seat Dancing Queen, the Abba-tastic Super Trouper and Walters' hilarious Take a Chance on Me. And with its Grease-like balance of nuttiness and real emotion, it can't help but completely win us over. And the glittering, lycra-clad curtain call finale is simply fabulous. Pity it doesn't continue all the way through the closing credits, because we'd still be there dancing.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
m, london: "ms streep is jaw droppingly funny. she is truly divine. no one else comes close." (8.Jul.08)
Don, warriewood: "The best movie this year or any other year. Wonderful acting, great photography, ABBA never sounded so fresh and emotionally connecting." (14.Jul.08)
Jo, Littlehampton: "Absolutely gorgeous to look at, totally hilarious to the point where other people in the cinema were looking at me rather than the screen, and brilliant Abba songs. Very strong cast who absolutely sent themselves up and obviously had a ball. It was the perfect feel-good moment. Oh, and Colin Firth (and Pierce) take their shirts off. So that's alright then!" (12.Aug.08)
© 2008 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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