I am an unashamed ABBA fan as they were part of the music of my late teens and early 20s. Their songs by 1973 were being played at discos, and on the radio repeatedly, and their influence on us was phenomenal. I so enjoyed the first Mamma Mia film ten years ago, and the DVD has been watched many times, usually with girlfriends and a couple of bottles of wine.
It is now time to return to that idyllic Greek island of Kalokairi, which we left in such high spirits five years ago and catch up with events. The hotel has been renovated and Donna’s daughter Sophie is organising the grand opening. She has a secret that mirrors her mother’s story, but it seems that nature is about to dampen the party spirit.
It was wonderful to see so many of the cast returning, with the hilariously scatty Julie Walters as Rosie, ascerbic and witty Christine Baranski as Tanya, Amanda Seyfried as daughter Sophie, Dominic Cooper as her boyfriend Sky and Sophie’s three possible fathers, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgård and Colin Firth as Sam, Bill and Harry.
This is billed as a sequel but in fact it is a prequel too. We get to find out how Donna met the three men in her life as she traveled through Europe to find herself, and her eventual arrival on the island and why she decided to stay. The young Donna is excellently played by Lily James (Downtown Abbey)and the story is cleverly crafted around ABBA tracks that tempt you to get out into the aisle and start dancing.
Newcomers to the family include Cher as Sophie’s grandmother, and a very dapper Andy Garcia as Fernando, I am sure you can guess which ABBA song Cher was going to be singing!
That is the cast assembled and they were all outstanding. Part of the appeal for me, was that not all those singing, were necessarily in tune. It made it feel that much more spontaneous and entertaining. I was very impressed with Lily James as the younger Donna and her voice, as I was again with Meryl Streep. The music hits just kept coming and the dance scenes were brilliantly choreographed.
It was definitely cheesy in places, but that just added to the fun, and there was also enough emotionally charged moments to keep the tissue manufacturers very happy. Who would not enjoy love, laughter in such a stunning location.
It is difficult to pick stand out moments but there is one character who will have you in stitches; Omid Djalili the British Iranian stand up comedian and actor as the customs officer. Just one of the laugh aloud moments throughout the film.
The highlight for me would be Cher singing Fernando, and demonstrated that even when you have heard a song a thousand times, in the hands of a master, you will find a new perspective.
The film was directed by Ol Parker (The Best Marigold Hotel) who also wrote the script adapted from the story by Catherine Johnson, Richard Curtis and himself, and the intricate weaving of the story back and forth between past and present was seamless. The music of course was fine tuned for the score by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus who are also executive producers, and you might glimpse them in the background if you look carefully. Some Hollywood legends also put their weight behind the production including Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson.
There is no way that with this cast and production team, that Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, is not going to be as big a hit as the original film. I highly recommend that you go and see it in the cinema so that you can enjoy the incredible scenery of the location. I would imagine that the actual Croatian island of Vis will find itself hosting more than a film crew and cast after this.
It was clear that the rest of the audience enjoyed the film as much as I did with lots of laughter, singing along and chatter as they left the cinema. The mark of a well made film that leaves you feeling good.
Get together with some ABBA loving friends and head off to enjoy.
Here is the official trailer for Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again.
The soundtrack from the film is also available: Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again
Look forward to hearing your views on the film… thanks Sally