Mamma Mia!

Sometimes, you just don’t know what you’ve been missing until…well, until you find out you’ve been missing it. So, tonight, lying curled on the sofa, watching (for the first time!) the film version of “Mamma Mia”.

Oh, why haven’t I watched this before?

Happy, bittersweet and wonderful!

Utter tosh, too! But aren’t the best stories? The best musicals?

Across the room, andrea bridled at continuity issues! Huh? What’s that got to do with anything?

Its not serious drama. Not serious anything. But still it had the power to make me smile and, for the second time today, to raise a tear or two.

Romance? Check!

Life? Absolutely!

And in the early scenes, something I maybe would not quite have noticed (or identified with) before: a celebration of disgraceful, unashamed middle-aged womanhood.

Sure: the focus is on the young 20-something daughter. And the male interest (including Piers Brosnan, Colin Firth and the slightly lesser known Stellan Skarsgård) is obviously there for its pin-up value. But the scenes that stood out, for me, were the early ones, highlighting the friendship between Meryl Streep, Julie Walters and Christine Baranski.

I know the intention is that this is a family movie, with something for everyone. It feels, though, as if somewhere along the way, the writers got a lot more interested in the female characters… and just settled down to showing how magnificent women can be when they’ve got past all that youthful obsession with image and conformity.

Descending, briefly, to boring seriousness, this feels like a woman’s movie first and foremost. Maybe, too, I found myself drawn to it that much more, given the journey I’ve been on over the last year.

In another recent post, I wrote about how much more “connected” I feel now: to the world, to people, to other women. That feeling was very strong tonight. I think I “got” what Meryl and her friends are about in a way I could never have done before.

Random out-take? I loved the way Christine Baranski inhabited her role of confident cougar. Written less kindly, she’d have been a figure of ridicule. Here, she came across as simply grown-up and assertive.

Watching her, for a moment, I felt myself slipping back several decades. Is it just me, or does Christine ressemble (both in looks and character) Lily Tomlin, who made her name in 60’s review vehicle “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in”. Dunno. I’m always being told I’m crap at spotting facial likeness.

But take a look for yourself.

And whilst you’re at it, just pretend I’m not old enough to remember Lily from first time around.

The embarrassment!



6 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Stace said,

    I saw that as the cinema with Mrs Stace and it was one of the first BluRay’s that we brought. We thought that it was a great film (for all the reasons you mention).

    I can’t hear Abba’s SOS without thinking of Pierce. And the Winner Takes it All scene Meryl Streep is, for us, the standout scene in the movie.


  2. 2

    spirifer said,

    I noticed the Baranski/Tomlin resemblance! I’ve seen repeats of Rowan & Martin (I love Henry Gibson) but I always think of Lily Tomlin as the inimitable Selma Dritz in And The Band Played On – that is an amazing film if you haven’t seen it.

    • 3

      janefae said,

      pah! talk about subtle one-upmanship! I saw the ORIGINAL Rowan and Martin (albeit, staying down late on, i think, a sunday night to do so).

      Think I did catch the Selma Dritz role…but that’s a long while bacl. Had Alan Alda in there as well, if i remember right?


  3. 4

    andrea said,

    its a middle aged womans chick flick, the pin ups (pierce brosnan et al), the music (Abba), the central women (all in their late fifties when this was made)…. the young folk were there just to give it a storyline…. one which most woman of a certain age can relate to (even i raised a tear at the mother letting go of daughter scenes as i’m losing a daughter in a few months -to Uni not marriage thank god)

    My huge continuity issue was a glaring semi generational hole…. at twenty and being the offspring of young folk doing their travelling/sowing wild oats/expressing identity through youth sub cultures… your parents are highly more than likely to be in their 40s as opposed to 50s. Let alone late 50s.

    But then having a film about those in their forties couldn’t have woven in the same sort of schmaltzy poignancy needed for their target audience…or tied in Abba quite so well.

    I just kept thinking Meryl Streep was going to break the news that she was grandmother to Sophie and not mother as she’d been brought up to believe.

    Oh and theres no way that donkey would have made it up to the church in the time it took Meryl to sing The Winner Takes it All.

    • 5

      janefae said,

      ah yes: but i’m not acting as film critic here (though sometimes it might look as though i am). The real point was how this film spoke to me in a way i suspect it would not have a year, two years ago.

      Tears for departing daughters? Yep. That’s a constant. But at least your’s hasn’t been reading any of your diaries.

      We hope! 🙂


  4. 6

    Jane B. said,

    Guys , for your own good …..Put the ABBA down and step away!!!! LOL


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