Movie Review: Florence Foster Jenkins (2016) *Spoiler Free*

I wasn't always on board as a Meryl Streep fan but these days, that's all it takes for me to go see a new Meryl Streep film. She's just that good, and is choosing roles that are clearly challenging, even for an actress with her experience.

Not only that, she's also choosing interesting characters to play. Her title role of Florence Foster Jenkins is no exception.


Based on a true story, Florence Foster Jenkins gained a reputation as the world's worst opera singer during the second World War - not that she knew it thanks to her doting husband St Clair, played expertly by Hugh Grant.

The story is not unlike that of Eddie the Eagle (which I reviewed previously) in that Florence's determination and love for music drove her to realize her dream of singing at Carnegie Hall in a sold out performance.

Along the way you experience not just the highs and lows of Florence, but also those of St Clair and her pianist, Cosme McMoon (played by Big Bang Theory's Simon Helberg), as they battle to make sure Florence is not exposed to people who cannot appreciate her particularly special talent.

I genuinely enjoyed this film. You get a real sense of all the main character motivations and just enough information to understand how anyone could indulge Florence's dream, despite her lack of a great singing voice.

There's a good sprinkling of humour that occurs naturally from the story, as well as a few moments where you really feel for each main player as they battle on as best they can. Fortunately we aren't exposed to too much of Florence's actual singing performances but you hear enough to know she wasn't even close to being adequate for a local volunteer choir.

If you're a Meryl Streep fan, you've probably seen this already. If you like Hugh Grant, this is one of his best performances where he isn't totally just being Hugh Grant - you really feel for his character in particular. Simon Helberg is also worth going to see in a very understated performance of a guy who you think may just explode with repressed emotions at any moment.

Overall it's a great story told well and I highly recommend it.

2 comments:

  1. I don't know if this is on yet but I think it will be, I'll have to check. I don't know when I'll get to see it.

    I'm not particularly a fan of Meryl Streep either, though the two or three of her films that I've seen have been good. I saw her in the Abba one and a comedy which I forget the name of now. I didn't think it was as funny as it should have been but she was alright in it.

    The best one I've seen of hers was 'The Devil Wears Prada.' I think that's how you spell it, I thought there was an 'h' in it but the spellcheck puts a red line under it when I put one. I don't think I saw it at the cinema, but on TV. I didn't like the character she played, as I thought she was a horrible boss. I can't stand those types that have everyone running round in a flat spin for them and then don't seem to appreciate it. Chucking her coat down on top of one of the desks on her arrival in the morning for someone else to tidy up wasn't very considerate I thought. She played it well though. It was her in 'Krama versus Krama' which I saw on TV. I always thought her face looked a bit flat and expressionless, but she's got better as she's got older.

    I liked Emily Blunt in the 'Prada' one, infact, I like anything with her in, she's very good. I first saw her in 'The Book Club' which I've got on DVD. Hadn't seen her before that.

    I was wondering with this film if I could stand the high screeching singing, as I've seen the promos on the TV and at the cinema, but you say you don't get to hear much of it, so it might not be too bad. I like Hugh Grant too, as you may know. Have to give it a try.

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    1. Her singing isn't particularly unpleasant it's just that she goes way off key and the high notes are just so obviously out of tune it's hard to understand how she can't know that her singing is bad. That's where much of the humour in this film lies. She clearly bad at singing but she's the only one that can't see (or hear) it.

      I go see almost anything new with Meryl Streep in it at this point. She's choosing great character roles that are really fun to watch and/or acted well.

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