"She's a little bit Melissa Etheridge, a little bit Janis Joplin – like a singer who's seen some s---, ya know?" says screenwriter Diablo Cody
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Credit: Courtesy TriStar Pictures

Meryl Streep faces the music in this summer’s Ricki and the Flash, and PEOPLE’s got an exclusive first look at the film.

The Oscar winner plays Ricki, a hard-rocking singer/guitarist who gets a shot at redemption in director Jonathan Demme’s latest. When her daughter Julie (played by Streep’s own offspring, Mamie Gummer) is left in shambles after a broken engagement, she goes home to reconnect with her kin – including her ex (Kevin Kline) and son (Sebastian Stan) – who are less than enthused by her homecoming.

Screenwriter Diablo Cody says Streep’s offscreen relationship with Gummer made the story all the more authentic. (The mother-daughter duo also appeared together in the 1986 dramedy Heartburn and the 2007 drama Evening.)

“We thought that would be a real cool thing for an audience to witness: a mother and daughter kind of working out their own stuff and their character’s stuff onscreen at the same time. And Mamie is the revelation of this movie,” says Cody, who won an Oscar for Juno. “Watching them go head-to-head was really something special.”

Streep and Kline, of course, have a history, too, previously costarring in Sophie’s Choice and A Prairie Home Companion.

“Having him play her ex-husband and then having Mamie there as their daughter, you sense that there was a real connection there, so that created an even deeper family dynamic,” adds Cody, who expects moviegoers to “really buy them as a family unit.”

As for Streep’s chops as a rocker? This is obviously no Mamma Mia! or Into the Woods.

“Mamie mentioned to me that she just put a tremendous amount of time and practice into it, and it shows,” says Cody, who calls Streep’s sound “a little bit Melissa Etheridge, a little bit Janis Joplin. She has a little bit more of a rawer edge. She’s like a singer who’s seen some s—, ya know?”

Even more impressive than the lead’s vocals, though, is how they were recorded.

“All the music is recorded live – there’s no playbacks, no re-recording, no trickery, no studio,” adds Cody. “What you’re hearing in this movie was recorded on set.”

Ricki and the Flash hits theaters Aug. 7.

For more on this summer’s hottest movies, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday