I found myself relaxing into this delightful film, set against the backdrop of a beautiful Greek island (actually shot up the coast in Croatia) and the upbeat tempo of timeless ABBA songs. In addition to hearing the old favorites—“Dancing Queen” and “Waterloo”—we are introduced to lesser-known songs such as “When I kissed the Teacher,” “Andante Andante,” and “One of Us.” I’m looking forward to Cher’s upcoming CD release of these cover songs.
Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is planning a grand opening for Hotel Bella Donna, named in honor of her mother, Donna (Meryl Streep), who died the previous year. Everything is in place as Sophie awaits the arrival of Donna’s best friends, Rose (Julie Walters) and Tanya (Christina Baranski) and her three Dads, Sam (Pierce Brosnan), Harry (Colin Firth), and Bill (Stellan Skarsgard).
To make up for Donna’s death, the film introduces a parallel story about Donna’s youth. Lily James plays the young Donna, a free-spirited and sweet-voiced woman hoping to make memories as she searches for her life’s purpose. The flashbacks seamlessly move the timeline between the late 1970s and the present day. While the original film glossed over the details, this sequel provides insight into Donna’s relationships with her three suitors. The new cast playing the younger versions of the main characters add to the film’s energy and humor.
The casting of Cher as Donna’s mother was an inspired decision. Her rendition of “Fernando” (as sung to Andy Garcia) is one of the highlights. I also enjoyed the short—too short—scene where Meryl Streep appears and sings “My Love, My Life” with Amy Seyfried. Bring your tissues!
A light and breezy film perfect for the summer and a welcome reprieve from the explosive alternatives.