Florence Foster Jenkins

Florence Foster Jenkins


Meryl Streep is Florence Foster Jenkins, the 1930s-40s New York socialite who dreamed of becoming an opera singer despite being roundly ridiculed for her lack of rhythm, her lack of pitch, and her aberrant pronunciation. This true story comedy-drama is from director Stephen Frears (The Queen, Philomena) and co-stars Hugh Grant.

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Flicks Review

From High Fidelity to The Queen, British director Stephen Frears has a knack for crafting crowd-pleasers. His latest relates the amazing-but-true tale of Florence Foster Jenkins, a wealthy, New York socialite, convinced she’s a chanteuse, despite being about as tuneful as a cement-mixer. Yet her dire singing gained huge popularity in the 1940s, culminating, in a case of colossal cash over tiny talent, with a full-blown concert at Carnegie Hall.... More

Frears keeps matters light and frothy, steering clear of contentious issues around whether we’re being invited to laugh at or with the delusional diva. Belting it out as the titular tone-deaf songstress, Meryl Streep is on charismatic comic form, investing Florence with an empathetic humanity that saves her from cruel caricature. She emphasises Jenkins' “music is my life” convictions, even if the only emotions she evokes in audiences are shocked gasps and schadenfreudian giggles.

Streep is ably supported by a top-notch cast. Bagging the biggest laughs is The Big Bang Theory star Simon Helberg as Flo’s ever-perplexed pianist, and Hugh Grant is at his oily, insincere, foppish best as Flo’s husband, manager, and exploiter-in-chief.

If you had your fill of Meryl Streep singing in Mamma Mia!, try Marguerite, the fictionalised French art-house version of this Empresses’ New Clothes tale. But if it’s a light, fun, unapologetically sentimental, comic cinematic treat you seek, Florence Foster Jenkins offers a celebration of grand delusion on an operatic scale.Hide

The Peoples' Reviews

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BY cinemusefilm superstar

Genre labels shape your expectations of a movie but they are also manipulated by promoters to influence audience response. Both Marguerite (2016) and Florence Foster Jenkins (2016) are being sold as “hilarious comedies” whereas in reality they both tell a sad story of self-deception and mental frailty, albeit in funny ways. Marguerite is a comedy of manners, while Florence is a tragi-comedy, the genre that shows the sad truth behind the apparently ridiculous. Both films are bio-pics, with... More one satirising vanity the other telling a tragic tale about a mental illness that is displayed on an operatically grand scale.

Unlike the fictitious Marguerite who is ‘loosely based’ on the real person, Florence is closely based on the wealthy and generous arts socialite Florence Foster Jenkins who came to public notoriety when she hired Carnegie Hall for her operatic recitals in 1944. Both films (and still available YouTube recordings) show the full force of how badly the real Florence sang, but that’s where the similarity ends. Early in the film we learn that Florence (Meryl Streep) has defied medical science by living well beyond the usual lifespan of a syphilis victim, a disease she contracted on marrying when 18 years old. She endured decades of archaic mercury and arsenic medication with progressive loss of mental functions and chronic exhaustion. Her second marriage remained celibate by mutual agreement and her husband (Hugh Grant) was free to have affairs but was devotedly protective of Florence. The cinematic impact of these facts change the film from a satire to a study of pathos and tragedy as Florence is seriously unwell and singing is the only thing keeping her alive.

While Marguerite amplifies the ridiculous as seen from the other side of the Atlantic, Florence is an American-owned story and any ridicule is tempered with compassion. The combined acting virtuosity of icons Streep and Grant will most likely earn the film Academy nominations as these timeless stars are superb in their parts and their chemistry together is wonderful. Top production values are evident in the period set and costumes, and the whole film has an elegant authenticity that underscores the seriousness of mental degeneration, whether its on the stage of Carnegie Hall or elsewhere. Audiences might leave cinemas still chuckling at the singing of Marguerite and Florence, but many will leave Florence with sympathy for her desperate desire to be something that nature made impossible.Hide

BY thorinoak superstar

Cinema is all about story and spectacle. Not much story here; no real fight to win, no odds to be surmounted, or victory to be sacrificially won. The spectacle on the other hand is Streep and Grant who both give outstanding performances which sadly are inconsequential given how poor the story really is.

BY flapper123 superstar

If you are a fan of Meryl Streep, you won't be disappointed. This is a wonderful film and I too thought that "Mcmoon" outshone Hugh in a few scenes but Hugh kept his character together.well. Costumes and time period really made for nostalgia especially the end credits giving details about the real people. .

Movies are about entertainment, and this film certainly fits the bill.

BY Rewa nobody

Such a great film, interesting and entertaining, highly recommended.

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The Press Reviews

100% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • A delicious, finger-tingling comedy about the creative instinct that makes your heart want to squawk with joy. Full Review

  • The awful truth about Florence Foster Jenkins doesn't fully emerge until we're well into Stephen Frears' exuberant if predictable bio-pic... Full Review

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