' ' Cinema Romantico: Shout-Out to the Extra: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again Version

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Shout-Out to the Extra: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again Version

Shout-Out to the Extra is a sporadic series in which Cinema Romantico shouts out the extras, the background actors, the bit part players, the almost out of your sight line performers who expertly round out our movies with epic blink & you’ll miss it care.

Spoiler: In “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again”, Andy Garcia’s legendarily gravelly hotel manager Señor Cienfuegos has his name withheld nearly the entire movie because his name turns out to be Fernando, perhaps the most preeminent ABBA song not employed in the first “Mamma Mia.” We learn his name when he spies Ruby, mother to “Mamma Mia!” protagonist Donna, grandmother to “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” protagonist Sophie, and Señor Cienfuegos’s long lost love. And because this is a jukebox musical, when they spy each other, they sing “Fernando.”

As they sing, they cross a scenic terrace, meeting halfway, meaning they move through a convocation of extras. And yet, if these two stars make the scene, the nameless people on the periphery, as they so often do, enhance it.

Like this extra, who does not simply stand and watch but swoons.

Or these extras who, as Garcia passes them, turn to one another, raise their glasses and share a toast. These are extras not merely getting into the spirit of the scene but reveling in their good fortune to be part of it.

And then you have these extras, all of whom are like background snowflakes, each one special in her/his own way. You’ve got the guy sitting in the bottom right-hand corner who has decided to play this moment like he’s really hearing what Cher has to say, you know? You have the woman in the striped top just above the guy sitting down who looks as if she’s trying so hard to figure out what kind of face to make that her face has instead become frozen in impassiveness. But it’s the three women on the left hand side of the frame that really make it.

Moving from back to front, you’ve got the woman in the black skirt and colorful white top. She is not swooning, not like the woman up above, nor does she quite have the appropriate basking in the moment’s romance reaction like the extra in the striped head scarf. No, this extra seems to be bubbling up with glee that Cher is passing by. And the extra in the red top and white shorts, meanwhile, right next to her appears excited AF that Cher is passing by. And the woman in the black dress....oh my. She looks like the ghost of the Virgin Mary is passing by, which is totally right.

Cher is playing a character, of course, but really, she’s Cher, in countenance, in spirit. More than likely if you went to see “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” you knew Cher was in it and you were waiting for Cher’s moment and here it is, finally. And it is difficult – rightfully, respectfully – to take your eyes off her, or even off Garcia, who was, as many awards pundits have noted, snubbed for an Oscar nomination. As such, these extras transcend mere filler, becoming fill-ins for us, the audience.

Pour one out for the extras.....

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