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Stars: Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Julie Walters, Colin Firth, Christine Baranski, Stellan Skarsgard, Amanda Seyfried, Dominic Cooper
Director: Phyllida Lloyd
You really have to give yourself up totally to the sound of Abba's music to get the most out of this exhilarating musical whose songs are its total raison d'etre.
But, whether you like Abba or not, Streep's sensational rendition of The Winner Takes It All overrides all prejudices. If you want a breezy capper to a marvellous acting career, this is it.
The scenes in between the songs (mercifully few) are adequate, but you just can't wait for the next number to come along. There's no Fernando and barely a snatch of Chiquitita, but otherwise all Abba life is here.
As Streep's pals, Walters and Baranski deservedly get a song apiece, while Brosnan, Firth and Skarsgard gamely conceal the fact they can't really sing. At times, the production design overwhelms the music and individual voices tend to be drowned out by the arrangements. But it's immensely joyous and even the Greek chorus has moments that make the audience laugh.
Plot? Streep's daughter (Seyfried), not knowing who her father is, invites three likely candidates to a Greek island for her own wedding (to Cooper, a Brit up-and-comer who can also carry a tune). Nuff said. Enjoy - or not, according to your propensities. Gay audiences, Streep fans, Abba lovers and all those starved of tuneful musicals will embrace it whole.
USA 2008. UK Distributor: Universal. Technicolor.
103 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.
Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.
Review date: 08 Jul 2008