PG-13 | 110 min | Biography, Comedy, Drama
Review - Matt Mungle
*Now playing in theaters*
Synopsis: The story of Florence Foster Jenkins, a New York heiress who dreamed of becoming an opera singer, despite having a terrible singing voice.
Review: Meryl Streep may have had a few roles fall flat lately but none as flat as FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS. But luckily that is what makes her character so wonderful. Based on the real socialite of the 1930's and 40's this film hums a sweet tune of devotion with a comedic melody.
Florence (Meryl Streep) is adored in New York's musical circles. She is dear friends with the leading conductors and has the best seats at Carnegie Hall. She has raised money for countless charities and events simply because music is her life. Her adoring husband St Clair (Hugh Grant) worships her and is constantly looking out for her well being. He may have his hands full though when Florence decides she wants to be an Opera singer. How can he manage to keep Florence from hearing the truth; she just can't sing!
This is a wonderful movie filled with humor, endearing characters, and more than a few tugs on the old heart strings. The story highlights Jenkins in her later years but we get enough of her back story to understand her drive and motivation; as well as her husbands doting. Theirs is an odd marriage and one that at first glance might seem awkward and sad. But as the movie evolves so does your perspective. It is more then just saving face in polite society. It is about commitment, love, and respect. True many might blame St Clair and agree that he could easily tell her the truth and make his life and others more bearable. But to do that would be to destroy her very soul. After all, she can't be that bad, right? She is that bad.
Streep must have worked extremely hard to be able to sing that flat and off key and make it sound natural. She embodies the character with a tenacity for life encrusted in a fragile shell of regret and sadness. Sadness for a life that didn't play fair. Money can't buy everything but it can sure help with the trouble spots so Florence has used hers to build a world around her that drowns out the mournful past and keeps her moving forward. The actual recordings of Florence Foster Jenkins are still some of the most sought after. Her legacy truly lives on long after her passing.
Another delight in this film is Simon Helberg who plays pianist Cosmé McMoon. McMoon is initially hired to accompany Florence during her vocal lessons. He is completely unaware of her inability to carry a tune and it takes every ounce of his energy to not react negatively. After all he is a brilliant musician and takes that seriously. He has to weigh his professional reputation against the lofty sum he is being paid to work for her. The friendship that blossoms though is a beautiful one.
Florence Foster Jenkins is rated PG-13 for brief suggestive material. It is an uplifting, laugh filled story that will amuse all. I give it 4 out of 5 ear plugs. One of Grant's best performances and Streep continues to do what she does so well; make a character come alive.