I’ll have to say, I wasn’t super excited about seeing “Ricki and the Flash” — I expected a soap opera style film about a country music star, replete with the heartache and overdramatic dialogue of a country-western ballad. Wow, was I pleasantly surprised! This is a story about people, not music stars.

What really gives this story its platform is the script, a witty, meaningful, beautifully concise masterpiece by Diablo Cody … most definitely not a soap opera. The film’s characters each have a different voice. They are real, flawed and they turn themselves inside out over the course of the narrative. Meryl Streep exudes charisma as a mother who left her kids behind for a rock music career who now plays to mostly aging fans in a local bar. She inhabits this magnetic yet fading rock star beautifully. Streep actually plays guitar and sings with soul and authenticity. And Rick Springfield, as the love interest, has actually become a solid actor. Kevin Kline is such a chameleon that I believe he somehow devours each character he creates in order to become that person. Mamie Gummer digs up intense anger and frustration to play a young woman who has a childhood probably quite different from her own, as the daughter of the rock star played by her real Mom.

Tiffany Canfield and Bernard Telsey have done a beautiful job casting this movie. I can’t see this being as good a film with anyone else in the cast, and I mean that down to the roles with only scant minutes of screen time. In Cody’s screenplays, every character, no matter how small, is instrumental to the story and the emotional arcs. Standouts are the bartender who is one of Ricki’s younger fans, played by Ben Platt, and the studio musicians who play Ricki’s band mates.

Production Designer Stuart Wurtzel has created sets that become characters in themselves. The bar where “Ricki” plays is dark and mysterious yet has a warm glow — it has heart. The stepmother’s kitchen, as the camera pans slowly over the counters, reveals insights into her personality through the objects she has carefully placed there. We know a lot about this character before we even meet her.

Director Jonathan Demme is a master of his art. The first job listed on his resume is music coordinator on a film called “Sudden Terror” in 1970. Since then he has directed a huge list of films spanning many genres, including “The Manchurian Candidate,” “Philadelphia” and “Silence of the Lambs.” He has also made documentaries on Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young. This explains his ability to skillfully guide his cast and crew on this project with a backdrop in the rock music world.

Go see “Ricki and the Flash.” This is a universal story about human nature, set to a backdrop of rock music. It will open your mind to the idea that perhaps every generation has the same hopes, dreams and goals — we all speak the same language, perhaps just with different accents.

Rated PG-13.101 minutes.

Kathryn Whitney Boole was drawn into the entertainment industry as a kid and never left. It has been the backdrop for many awesome adventures with crazy creative people. She now works as a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. Reach her at kwboole@gmail.com. Forpreviously published reviews, see https://kwboole.wordpress.com.

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