Florence Foster Jenkins

Meryl Streep is one of the greatest actresses we have in the world of movies.  She can carry just about anything and do it with credibility.  Here, she steps into the high heels of one of the stranger, true stories that you will ever see.

Florence Foster Jenkins was a grand dame who was a driving force behind a “music club” during World War II.  The prim and proper membership of the club was high brow and respectful.  After seeing a brilliant opera singer, Miss Florence wanted to get back on the stage and sing.  Her husband St Claire (Hugh Grant) goes out of his way to make her wishes happen.

The problem?  Miss Florence can not sing.  Everybody knew it.  Her new pianist Cosme McMoon (Simon Helberg) couldn’t believe what he was hearing.  And he was confused why no one else was saying anything.

St. Claire was the man behind the curtain in this case, making sure that his wife was always shown in a positive life, whether by bribery, blackmail or bravado.

The main characters in this film are very likable and that comes across because of the three lead actors.  Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant and Simon Helberg are really good and have a distinct connection with their characters.  You can feel how much each of these characters mean to one another, and how far St Claire and McMoon will go to help Miss Florence.

Streep does a great job singing just terribly.  It is a very funny performance as this woman who loves music, but cannot hear that she cannot sing a bit.

This is one of the biggest issues with the film. The film is not clear about how we are supposed to act.  Are we supposed to laugh at the singing or the facial expressions on Simon Helberg (which are really funny) or are you supposed to not laugh at her because laughing at her is mean and cruel spirited.  This variation of tone made me wonder what they wanted to portray.

There is a very intriguing story moving through the film, involving Florence’s health.  There is also a lot about St Claire and another romantic relationship he had with a woman named Kathleen (Rebecca Ferguson).  These plots were welcome and based in character which only made them stronger.

The movie does pull on heartstrings and the ending comes across as sappy, but the overall story is one that would have seemed far fetched had it not been a true story.  It does show how the love of music can drive someone to do more than they are capable of doing.  Strong performances are scattered throughout the film.  I just wish that I knew if it was supposed to be a comedy or not.

3.8 stars

 

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