Film: “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again”; Director: Ol Parker; Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Dominic Cooper, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard, Andy Garcia, Christine Branski, Julie Walters, Meryl Streep and Cher; Rating: ****1/2
If you are a die-hard fan of the Swedish pop group ABBA, you must have waited ten years for this sumptuous sequel to “Mamma Mia”, the film woven around the ethereal songs of ABBA and performed by the actors with an enthralling verve.
The hypnotically beautiful Amanda Seyfriend and Meryl Streep are back as daughter and mother. The vast cast is uniformly good looking. The film oozes a visual splendour of orgiastic proportions.
The verve and vivacity of the original spills over effortlessly into the sequel. The plot dithers delectably between utopia and fantasia, careening captivatingly towards the Broadway styled musicals where the actors (expert singers or not) express moments of heightened feelings through the songs.
The melodic masterpieces of ABBA are performed on a Croatian island where time comes to standstill as a truckload of characters belonging to two different time zones come together in the most celebratory ode to effervescence I’ve seen on screen. This is “The Sound Of Music” with the cuteness quotient augmented manifold.
I don’t think one needs to be a fanatic fan of ABBA as I am, to love these “Mamma Mia” movies. So ebullient and contagious are the choreography and singing of the numbers that I saw youngsters simply getting swayed off their feet in the theatre, grooving to the magical beats of a group that can never get outdated.
This brings me to the lackadaisical release of “Mamma Mia 2” in India. I am told that the film’s distributors Universal Pictures didn’t think there was a large audience for ABBA and “Mamma Mia” since the generations that dug ABBA are long gone.
Wrong! ABBA, like good champagne, has only got more inviting with time. The magical cadences of their songs are used in the film to give the characters a sense of infinitesimal ecstasy in a world that is rendered transient not just by time but also by mood and temperament.
It’s an enchanting experience to see all the accomplished actors of all ages getting into the party mood with such accomplished chords.
Every actor is just right for the celebratory mood. Easily the highlight is the timeless Cher singing “Fernando” — a number so steeped in nostalgia that it requires nerves of steel to not break down while it is performed in her seductively smoky voice.
Ah, the sad bit. There is very little of Meryl Streep in the film. Not that there is much room for anybody to stay their welcome. There are two sets of actors playing each character in the past and present. Timelines are jauntily ignored while everyone has a ‘gala’ (as in throaty) time. Not very often do we come out of a film feeling so happy to be alive.
So, thank you for the music. Thank you for this that celebrates the joy of ABBA’s music. Thank you for the world of unalloyed innocence and joy at a time when biopics on serial killers, gangsters, terrorists and other nasty types, rule the roost.