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Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

John Woods digs under the surface of the summer's feelgood movie ...

Director - Ol Parker
114 minutes

Main Characters

Amanda Seyfried (Sophie)
Dominic Cooper (Sky)
Meryl Streep
Pierce Brosnan (Sam)
Colin Firth (Harry)
Lily James (Young Donna)
Julie Walters (Rosie)
Christine Baranski (Tanya)

Everyone knows the songs of Abba. Mamma Mia uses the same ingredients that made the first film such a success. A great cast of actors and actresses, superb songs, a crazy storyline and beautiful scenery.

This is the kind of film that is perfect for a long hot summer. Set on an island paradise and building on the phenomenal success of the first Mamma Mia, it's a kind of prequel and sequel rolled into one. Set after the death of Donna, played by Meryl Sleep in the first film, the storyline skilfully switches back and forth between 1979 and the 21st Century.  Lily James, who has a surprisingly lovely singing voice, plays the younger version of Donna, reliving the events that led her to meet daughter Sophie's three possible fathers! This is a film that puts a smile on the face, but as a parent I couldn’t help but think how horrified I would be if Donna was my daughter!

Yet this is the age in which we live, an “easy come easy go” type existence, a world without border or boundaries, where the heart does what the heart does.

Like the first film, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again explores the complex nature of identity, combined with coping with real loss. Donna’s daughter Sophie, is expecting her first baby but Donna is no longer around to share the joy. The final scenes capture the poignant bitter sweet nature of moments that surround the beginning and the end of life.

What are Christians to make of a film like this? Abba wrote sad songs wrapped in La La Land-like exuberance and glitter. The Times says they are “some of the most uplifting gloomy songs ever written”. (I thought that accolade went to the biblical Psalms of Lament.) And most of the songs carry a theme of betrayal and disappointment … 'life sucks'. They ask questions but provide few answers. Maybe Christians can watch this film looking for ways we can interact with a world of shattered dreams and broken hearts.

At the same time life that so often disappoints us can also pleasantly surprise us. Like when Sophie’s mostly absent grandmother, played by Cher expectantly turns at a family celebration. Whatever the chaos of our lives, grace can turn up in unexpected places. Grace finds beauty in ugly things, as Bono has reminded us.

John Woods is pastor of Lancing Tabernacle

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