The last year has been filled with countless sequels – indeed, stepping into any cinema foyer, all I can see are posters of the second, third or fourth film in a franchise – Incredibles 2, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Hotel Transylvania 3… Now, a lot of them are unnecessary – this, however, I’ve been “Waiting For You” – for a long, long time! Let us commence with the review of Mamma Mia – or, as it is called in the country where I saw it – “Mamma Mia! Štai ir mes.”
We first meet a pregnant Sophie at her Greek Hotel. Amanda Seyfried plays the role pretty well – and it is weird seeing her as this character, as I still mainly associate her as Karen in Mean Girls – both very different characters, thankfully! If it had been Karen on this island, the film probably would have followed a very different path – though Karen, with her weather prediction skills, might have been able to warn everyone when that storm hit the island…
The film starts off in a horrible way – Sophie is grieving the death of her Mother, Donna, played by Meryl Streep. This came as a huge shock, as an older Meryl Streep had been present in the trailer for the film. I really didn’t like this choice made by the filmmakers – leading me on to think Donna
And from then on, we are faced with a flashback – Oxford uni graduation ceremony in 1979. The graduation procedure is a bit dull until Donna, running late as per usual (this I could relate to only too well) joins the procedure. She says a speech and then… begins to sing! “When I Kissed a Teacher” is blasted out, a fun-filled song that doesn’t really seem like it belongs in such a prestigious stuffy institution as Oxford University. What was particularly interesting about this was that 1979 was the same year my Grandmother graduated, except her ceremony didn’t resemble a musical.
And then the film carries on in this same way – flashback, flashforward, flashback, flashforward… Apparently, according to the writers, this structure was inspired by The Godfather Part 2 – probably the only inspiration drawn from the Godfather Part 2.
Lily James plays the part of young Donna with this same infectious enthusiasm she had when playing Lady Rose in Downton Abbey. As someone who is about to embark on a gap year, Donna is very fearless and inspiring – the idea of going to a foreign country does not fill her with fear, but rather with thrills! I hope to embrace the same amount of confidence when I get on with my gap year, if I decide to do any more travelling.
The three men she falls in love with are all quite handsome – though am not going to lie, two of them looked so similar I kept on mixing them up. One she meets in Paris (the city of love, how romantic!) There they sing Waterloo, of course, couldn’t they have been a bit more original? The next one she meets on a boat, then the final guy she bumps into on the island. The songs that power Donna from encounter to encounter are all lesser-known ABBA beats – yet still very good.
The film, not only paying homage to ABBA and the fashion of the late 70s, also pays a lovely homage to the character of Donna – her legacy and it tells of the happiness she gave to all those around her.
Also, it was a real surprise to see that Richard Curtis had got himself involved in this. Not quite as good as Notting Hill or Bridget Jones, but with this film I am in Love, Actually. (Sorry, but it was About Time.)