In preparation for the awards season, I’m starting to try and catch any nominated films that I missed. Not all of them are available for streaming yet, but Florence Foster Jenkins is available. The trailers for this film piqued my interest back when it was about to be released, but I never made it to the theater to check it out. I rented it on streaming and really enjoyed a lot from this film. Florence Foster Jenkins earns the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.
Based on the story of Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep), the film shows the story of a New York heiress who has her heart set on singing at a concert despite her lack of talent. Her husband, St Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant), does everything he can to ensure her confidence isn’t destroyed.
Hugh Grant is really great in this film. His character is extremely complex and could easily be disliked. Yet, he is also a sympathetic character in other ways. I enjoyed his performance quite a lot and found joy trying to figure out how I felt about him. Simon Helberg plays pianist Cosmé McMoon who is brought on to play music for Florence’s singing lessons. His character is quiet and somewhat shy, but also adds a lot to the humor of the film. Streep is fantastic as always and her “singing” is pretty hilarious. Florence is also sympathetic and in lives in a bubble of protection provided by St Clair.
One of the funniest scenes in the movie comes after the first singing lesson. The vocal coach, played by David Haig, is praising her and being a little bit too flirtatious. He is earning his paycheck in the sense that she thinks she’s improving. However, it’s clear to Cosmé that he’s just saying whatever Florence wants to hear. Cosmé is initially shocked when she starts singing, but soon snaps out of his stupor. As he leaves the lesson, the camera follows him into the elevator. His spontaneous laughter shocks the rest of the people riding the elevator, but definitely echoes the audience’s reaction to the singing.
A solid film thats fun to watch
If you missed this film I definitely recommend renting it. It’s well acted and fun at times, but also has a lot of heart. Florence Foster Jenkins is a fascinating look at a person who I knew nothing about, but feel compelled to learn a little more. Her story is interesting and, in ways, inspiring. She did get to take advantage of her station by getting to perform when she didn’t really have the talent to do so. Yet, her reasoning wasn’t that of arrogance as much as a passion for music and performance.