Random point the first: I really think I’ve used this post title before, but I don’t have enough gas in the tank to go back and confirm. So apologies if this repetition causes any confusion down the line.
Random point the second: The course was challenging and rewarding in all the best ways, but I need more processing time before knowing what insights I want to share here.
So I’m onto a much lighter topic tonight: the most recent film I watched, on the train ride down to NYC from Boston.
And that exceptionally high brow piece of cinema? Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again.
The New York Times review I linked above the fold is pretty much non-point with its critique of this film. The loss of the first film’s strongest presence in Meryl Streep. The fact that the new actors and characters don’t manage to provide the same gravitational center for the sequel. The necessity of calling on deeper cuts from ABBA’s catalog, since all their best songs and biggest hits were used in the first film. The insanity of casting Cher as Meryl Streep’s mother, given how the two woman are only 3 years apart in age. The overly-contrived manner to create a scenario in which Cher can sing the song “Fernando.”
And yet there were bits of this film that legitimately moved me. The chemistry Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgård have as Harry and Bill. made me smile and chuckle. The synchronized dance on the boats to “Dancing Queen” made my heart soar. And I absolutely teared up during the final duet between Sophie and Donna’s spirit.
Chalk it up as another time where my emotional response to an artwork is not necessarily in proportion to my intellectual appreciation for that artwork. Part of it is the way ABBA itself means so much to me—these “deep cuts” that so annoyed our NYTimes reviewer are songs I have known and loved and sung along to my entire life.
Part of it is all the ways I’ve been thinking on mothers and daughters this past year, what with my niece growing up and going out on her own, and also with ways my journey with Veronica was such a potent reminder of how strong a mother’s love and concern can be for her little girl, even when the “little girl” in question is pushing 50.
Back in my grad school days, I was much more embarrassed about how lowbrow my tastes could be. Nowadays, I understand that I am as much an emotional and spiritual being as I am an intellectual one. So, yeah, this sequel isn’t a great film, and there’s times when it’s not even that good of a film.
Nevertheless, it moved me. And I am choosing to take that as a good sign of how my heart is more open than it used to be.