Sunday, August 14, 2016

Florence Foster Jenkins

Director Stephen Frears’ Florence Foster Jenkins is a well-made and very well-acted, but sad story that was a bit cringe-creating, as well.

Florence was married at age 18 and got syphilis from her husband on their wedding night.  On his and his father’s deaths, she inherited a fortune and went on to become a patroness of the musical arts and society icon.  

She fancied herself a singer and, whether tone deaf as a result of her disease or just not caring, performed operatic songs in public.  Her second husband fostered her whims and dreams even when, in her mid-70s, she decided she wanted to perform in Carnegie Hall.

While she achieved her goals, her audiences primarily thought her performing was a comedic mockery of opera because her voice was so bad.  (In a sense, she was like the Trump of her day.)

Meryl Streep, who has a great voice, had to sing badly in this role and Hugh Grant does a great job of being the solicitous husband.

However, I couldn’t help wondering why this film was made and, if it weren’t for the secondary performers such as Rebecca Ferguson as the husband’s lover, Nina Arianda as the unruly wife of a man paid to watch Florence’s performances and, most notably,
Simon Helberg as Florence’s pianist, the film would have been a flat bore.

As it is, I give Florence Foster Jenkins a 3.6 out of 5.

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