So, if you're being really picky, Pierce Brosnan is miscast, and some of the scenes look like they are there solely as a vehicle for Abba's wonderful music, but who cares? I defy you to find a more uplifting, feel-good movie this summer, possibly this year.
Girl meets boy, or three, and 21 years later the child, Sophie, of whichever union, wishes to meet her real father before she marries on the far-flung Greek island where she was brought up. She invites all three, as you do, convinced that she'll know which is her dad, as you would. Surprisingly, despite being a young woman of great resourcefulness (she did, after all, manage to find the addresses of three men of whom her mother has never spoken), she doesn't. And so the fun begins, as mother and daughter reach some conclusions about their past and future.
Catherine Johnson, who wrote the West End musical, wrote the screenplay, using the lyrics and music of Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus. With its fabulous Greek backdrops and huge musical numbers, the film doesn't disappoint.
Sophie's mother, Donna, (Meryl Streep) is aided by her two buddies, Rosie (Julie Walters) and Tanya (Christine Baranski). As a threesome, they are magnificent, with many fine comedy moments between them. Their rendition of "Dancing Queen" is one of the film's highlights, and this relationship between three women who have seen one another through thick and thin is highly believable. Only during Streep's big number, "The Winner Takes It All", does she appear uncomfortable with the singing and emotion.
Amanda Seyfried, who plays Sophie, brings innocence and feeling, along with a degree of feistiness. Stay until the very last credits to hear her beautiful "Thank You for the Music". She and Streep portray a very moving mother-daughter relationship. You may even cry.
On the whole, as Donna had discovered years earlier, the men are a letdown. Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard, the "fathers", ought to be wonderful. Their scene on the boat with Sophie is touching, and though he tries hard, even Brosnan doesn't ruin the charming "Our Last Summer", but unfortunately it's not replicated throughout.
The real star of the show is, of course, the music. For us children of the Seventies and Eighties, it is fabulous to see these beloved Abba songs placed in a new context. If only we had the lyrics scrolling across the screen... but no true Abba fan really needs them.
Karen McMullan, Ex-teacher, BallyclareReuse content