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MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN

SYNOPSIS:
Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is planning a grand opening for the Hotel Bella Donna, named in honour of her mother (Meryl Streep). There is a lot to deal with - including the fact that she has just discovered that she is going to have a baby.

Review by Louise Keller:
Set on a bright colour palette and soaring on the wings of its timeless ABBA songs, this perfectly titled sequel has enough joie de vivre to paint the clouds with sunshine. Ten years after the original, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel writer director, Ol Parker has created a joyous film in which the past and the present fuse together harmoniously. There's a lovely free-spirited feeling about the film, its clever screenplay providing a platform for the stunning settings, marvellous cast and a backstory that adds to our overall experience. It's sweet but not too sweet, funny in a delightful way with poignant touches to tug the heartstrings.

The narrative rhythmically leapfrogs back and forth in time to when Meryl Streep's Donna (now played by the infectious Lily James) begins her love affair with Greece (Croatia's Isle of Vis doubling as a Greek island). We first meet James under the watchful eye of Celia Imrie's Vice Chancellor as she tosses her tousled blonde hair and graduation robe aside to deliver an energetic, beautifully choreographed rendition of When I Kissed the Teacher. That is the beginning of the back story.

The way the young Donna meets the three men in her life (Hugh Skinner, Josh Dylan and Jeremy Irvine, the young versions of Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard and Pierce Brosnan) is nicely done: punctuated by humour and music. Like Donna, we become infatuated by each of them.

In the present, our emotions go to work as Amanda Seyfried's Sophie goes through a long distance breakup with oddly named boyfriend Sky (Dominic Cooper). This takes place in the lead up to the opening of the Hotel Bella Donna: a tribute to her absent mother. Christine Baranski is a scene-stealer as one of Donna's old friends while Jessica Keenan Wynn as her younger self is especially effective.

And then there is Cher. The casting of Cher is inspired and the diva's rendition of Fernando (as sung to Andy Garcia's island hotel manager) does not disappoint. Only Cher can make walking down a set of steps, sliding her hands down the handrail into a sensual experience. This sequence and the magical moment between Seyfried and Streep (with too little screen time) as they sing My Love, My Life are the clear highlights. Take a hanky - or a gentleman who carries one. A little dab of the eyes may be required. (Watch for cameos by ABBA's Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus as a pianist and Uni professor, respectively.)

Feel-good, upbeat and energising, there is no denying the magic in this crowd-pleasing film that sparkles as brightly as the Mediterranean in summer. You'll be tapping your toes and humming along to all those tunes that have somehow become part of our lives.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN (PG)
(UK, US, 2018)

CAST: Lily James, Amanda Seyfried, Meryl Streep, Dominic Cooper, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard,ChristineBarnski, Colin Firth, Cher, Julie Walters, Jeremy Irvine, Andy Garcia, Josh Dylan, Hugh Skinner, Celia Imrie

PRODUCER: Judy Craymer, Gary Goetzman

DIRECTOR: Ol Parker

SCRIPT: Ol Parker (story by Ol Parker, Richard Curtis, Catherine Johnson)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Robert D. Yeoman

EDITOR: Peter Lambert

MUSIC: Benny Andersson, Bjorn Ulvaeus

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Not credited

RUNNING TIME: 114 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Universal

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 19, 2018







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