It’s been a day of housework – not my favourite way to spend a Saturday but needs must. Yesterday was much more my kind of thing – a great day filled with fun and laughter – what could be better? Meeting with friends at the Artrix Arts Centre in Bromsgrove for the morning showing of the film Mama Mia! Here we go again, we then went back to the home of one of those friends. We shared a bottle of champagne and, in keeping with the Greek theme (even though it was actually filmed on the Croatian island of Vis, once a military base for the Yugoslav National Army) she provided us with a fabulous mezze lunch which stretched lazily into late afternoon.
A long time fan of Abba since, as a teenager, I watched them sing Waterloo to win the 1974 Eurovision , I’d thoroughly enjoyed the original 2008 Mama Mia film and was dubious when some people said that it was even better. If you read my blog regularly you might remember that I wasn’t madly taken with Lily James’s performance in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I’d liked the film but felt that she was too lightweight in the leading role. I’d felt much the same about her character in Downton Abbey too so I wasn’t sure that I’d be quite as enthusiastic as some had been about her taking on the role of the young Donna. I hold my hands up – I was wrong. She was outstanding, and so unexpected – that girl can really, really sing. Both sequel and prequel to the original film, Here we go again is outrageously schmaltzy in places; it’s a laugh out loud/wipe away a tear (more than once) rollicking extravaganza of wildly improbable storyline written to fit the songs rather than the other way round. Very cleverly, the young actors (prequel) are cast so that we know immediately which of the older ones (sequel) they represent. It’s not as confusing as it sounds.
The only downside of the film (and even then it didn’t detract from the fun) was Cher. Yes, she of ‘Sonny & …’ Her largely unnecessary cameo appearance as Sophie’s grandmother was excruciatingly cringe-worthy even in a production where ‘over the top’ is the order of the day. Was I the only one to be thinking this, I wondered? No, my friends commented similarly. Her plastic face, devoid of a single wrinkle or line, was so taut that there was no expression as she tried in vain to move it. I have friends of a similar age who, without having resorted to going under the knife, look amazing and when they attempt a smile, they actually do smile! Meryl Streep’s cameo, on the other hand, was played with absolute perfection and prompted a few more tears.
Will the 2018 film be as successful at the box office as its predecessor? Will takings exceed the £460m of the original? I’ve no idea, but Here we go again deserves every plaudit it’s received, and someone out there needs to seriously consider giving Lily James a recording contract.