- Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
With its trademark sparkly nonsense magnified by the blue skies and disco lights, the star-studded cast and a stellar soundtrack, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again radiates the experience of a two-week Greek holiday packed into two hours of the film.
It’s the seventies; disco-loving Donna has just graduated from Oxford, said goodbye to her BFFs and set out on a trip across Europe. After a brief stay in Paris, she makes it to Greece to find herself: her destination is the island of Kalokairi that was once believed to be “the edge of the world”. Thirty years later, her daughter renovated the hotel in loving memory of her mother; she awaits the grand opening that doesn’t go as smoothly as planned. As we switch between two periods of time, we learn about the events that led to Donna finding her three loves of her life in surprising parallels with her offspring’s life.
Having used ABBA’s greatest hits in the first part of the film, the sequel stepped into the territory of lesser-known songs and re-enacted the biggest hits. Thankfully, the film doesn’t lose much steam: it’s still full of humour, filled with luscious landscapes of Croatia playing Greece bathed in the sunlight, and soundtracked by the rest of the Swedish band’s catalogue. The choreographies are also inventive, from the opening scene that sees Donna tearing off her graduation gown and crowd surfing to I Kissed a Teacher, through the Napoleon-inspired Waterloo performance in the French café, to the grand Super Trouper finale that reunites all members of the cast. Although there are moments in the story that can bring a facepalm or two to even the most eager enthusiasts of the film, the self-awareness the script presents and the lighthearted experience that the sparkly nonsense delivers is likely to conquer even those with stone-cold facades of nonchalance.
The star-studded cast has only expanded, helmed by a handful of newcomers. Lily James captures the spirit of free-spirited, young Donna who embarks on a journey across Europe to figure out her life. She had big shoes (or shall we say gold knee-high high-heeled boots?) to fill: recreating a character played by Meryl Streep and capturing the essence of her colleague’s acting is not an easy task, but she manages to find just the right balance between maintaining continuity and adding her individual mark to the character. Her vocals are also on point, which makes her a rightful prequel heiress to the queen. The flashback team is also joined by Jeremy Irvine, Josh Dylan and Hugh Skinner as Sam, Bill and Harry respectively who also manage to get to the crux of characters created by Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard and Colin Firth. Christine Baranski and Julie Walters own the best lines, the appearance from Cher makes a few songs even more worthwhile, while Meryl Streep’s return will most certainly break your heart in half.
The mother-daughter connection at the heart of this film strikes hard. Sophie feels more connected to the discoveries of her mum’s past as she tries to understand her feelings from the place of a mother-to-be, which makes for a few particularly poignant scenes, some of which involve Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried serenading each other. And the family grows bigger in another way, too: Cher’s heroine, the popstar Ruby, decides to commit to the life of a grandmother when she crashes the party, with another unexpected surprise under her belt. The exquisite warmth of the interactions between the characters, compiled with the absurd embraced by the film, makes for a one-in-a-kind experience; that’s what a summer blockbuster comedy should feel like.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again picks up where the first film left off and doesn’t fail to charm its fans with the same disco-loaded, bohemian vibes of its predecessor. It’s sparkly, filled with the lush pop classics that most of us know and absolutely, positively bonkers – but take a chance on this film and you’ll end up tapping your feet along to the beat of the story.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again opened in the UK on the 20th of July 2018.