Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mamma Mia! will make your heart soar!

I do a lot of things alone, and at the top of my list is seeing movies in a dark theatre by myself. It is a sweet secret of mine to ditch out in the middle of the day to find a seat in an empty theatre. I see what I want, I don't share my snacks, and I revel in the two hours of throw away time to escape to whatever presents itself before me on the big screen.

Going on a date movie is fine. Going during prime evening show isn't. I am aware of my annoyances. I have the nose of a blood hound. I never enjoy smelling that some one has eaten Indian food for dinner, and the sweet smell of gin or beer that seeps through their skin and into my personal space. I am not a fan of those that make their own commentary on the previews, or the relentless man that feels the need to shake his popcorn before EACH bite. So, instead of asking the world to change the idiosyncratic rituals of movie-watching....I go alone.

Yesterday, I ventured into the large stadium theatre to see Mamma Mia! I was a little skeptical. I loathe ABBA music. I have always found it overly depressing, or too disco tacky. Can the movie live up to the celebrational atmosphere of the musical? I flinched at the previews of my dear "Mark Darcy" (Colin Firth) singing on a sailboat. But it delivered...and then some!

From the first sparkling dock-scene on the shores of Greece to the last frame I was bedazzled. Meryl Streep had explained that she did this movie "for her daughters". On a Today Show interview she explained that she took them to see the Broadway show right after 9/11. When they were on their chairs dancing, she knew this show was something special. It showed. Her talents are almost indescribable. She doesn't only sing well, but she infuses the role with a maternity that cannot be manufactured. In her scene with her daughter, "Sophie"(Amanda Seyfried) she sings ABBA's "Slipping through my fingers" while kissing a cut on her leg. Throughout the song, she sits with Sophie on her lap and paints her toenails, bring me to tears in the wistful homage to the invaluable relationship of mother and daughter, or growing up and moving into womanhood.

The full female cast of choreographed dancing and singing to "Dancing Queen" on the dock is so exuberant and playful, I was nearly jumping out of my seat with pride in my femininity and exhilaration. Women throw off their aprons and toss wooden spoons to the ground to join the parade of women gleefully singing to the water. Again, Meryl finds a way to keep it authentic and uncheesy by sprinkling in her impromptu, unabashed dance movies and air-guitar.

The most awe-inspiring scene was when she sang "The Winner takes it all" to Pierce Brosnan. In an uncanny display of her talents she acts out the pain and embarrassment of lost love. The vulnerability in her motions, and facial expressions are enough, but the very fact that she is singing lines and holding notes sends chills. Her emotions permeate the screen and haunt there way into your soul. I had tears running down my neck.

Overall, the movie translates so well into a cinematic vision that I felt a part of it all. It is a movie of motherhood, of standing alone and raising a daughter. It shines with self-sufficiency and female relationships of youth and of maturity. The mystery of who Sophie's father keeps the story rolling at fast pace, and the comedic and sometimes campy tone make it sugary sweet with possibility and Grecian drama.

Whether you loved the musical, or never knew a thing about it beyond the unforgettable posters in NYC, see it. Let yourself go in the quirky, over-the-top whimsical beauty of seeing romance and parenthood play out before you to the tune of ABBA. I can guarantee that if you open yourself up to the light-hearted, well acted two hours, you will leave feeling grateful of your mother, your daughters, your current loves, and lost ones.

It is all a journey, it is all meant to be the way it is, and this movie reminds you of that.

1 comment:

dadshouse said...

How fun! I see movies alone, too. For Mamma Mia, I was lucky enough to see the stage show in SF - with my kids! They love ABBA music, and I'm fond of it from growing up, so we had a wonderful time.