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a few things irritated me, but you can't fail to love the energy of it all!
on 21 July 2008
I saw this at the cinema being an Abba fan (but not having seen the stage version. It has all the ingredients of a perfect feel good summer hit- sunshine, seascapes, a wedding and wall to wall Abba songs. Meryl Streep is, as usual, sensational. She is one of my favourite actresses to start with but gives a perfectly pitched performance as lovable, scruffy, free spirited Donna (and can even do the splits in mid air- who knew?). Her two friends, played by Christine Baranski and Julie Walters make up a fabulous comic trio who can really show the younger cast how its done. Add to the mix Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth sending themselves up and singing their hearts out (badly!) and you cannot fail to get carried away with the wonderful effervescent vibe of the film.
However,my two bugbears were the younger cast and the actual screenplay itself, written by Catherine Wilson who wrote the stage show. Some of the songs just seemed added in whether they were relevant or not, as if the author had a target of twenty songs, regardless of plot and had to contrive to cram them in. In some places the songs start quite unexpectedly after a pause in conversation and dare I say it,it looks quite awkward. Other numbers worked brilliantly well, such as Super Trouper and Dancing Queen, but Winner Takes it All, despite being a heartstoppingly good performance by Streep, didn't really fit into the situation, since it is a song about divorce and disullusionment. Her character Donna, was having a conversation with her ex summer fling about his possible fatherhood of her daughter and then breaks into this song and left me and my husband scratching our heads. This is a shame because as I said, Streep gives it her all, and does so brilliantly.
My other bugbear was the younger cast. The part of Sophie must have been hotly contested but I just didn't really warm to Amanda Seigfried's over earnest wide eyed performance. As for her fiance, Sky, I just thought he was woefully miscast and wooden. His character is supposed to be attractive and free spirited, wanting Sophie to run away with him and see the world, but his public school accent and wooden delivery wouldn't tempt me to go further than the front door with him. I just think there must have been someone better out there and neither of them really shone. The older cast were magnificently watchable though.
Overall, despite my niggles, this a an uplifting, joyful film and even the sequence during the end credits leaves you smiling. The music is fabulous, despite being crowbarred into context sometimes, and the fun factor is up in orbit. I think it will be the ultimate sleepover film/Christmas DVD and will endure as the music has, like Grease or Dirty Dancing. I will definitely be buying it when it comes out.