Movie: Florence Foster Jenkins
Rating: 4 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)
Review: In 1944 Manhattan, the citizens were starved for diversion as WW II raged on. At the swank Verdi Club, Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep) and husband St. Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant) did their best to provide entertainment for the patrons of the arts. Whether putting on operatic skits requiring Jenkins to be hoisted in the air by unseen stage hands straining to hoist the weight, or Bayfield hamming it up with monologues from Shakespeare, the couple were well known and influential patrons of the arts in New York City.
Had Florence Foster Jenkins sole interest remained as a benefactor to artists, she would have been universally hailed for her work. Bur Ms. Jenkins yearned to sing in public; she had the soul of an artist, but alas, not the voice. She took daily voice lessons from a renowned maestro, and gave performances at the Verdi Club to enthusiastic supporters, who chose to ignore her inability to stay on key for most of the songs. Finally, Florence made the decision that she was ready to give the performance of her life, and fulfill her dream of singing at Carnegie Hall. To prepare for this ultimate test, a pianist was hired to accompany Ms. Jenkins, one Cosme McMoon (Simon Helberg). On October 24, 1944, Florence Foster Jenkins stepped out on the stage of Carnegie Hall, and fulfilled that dream
This is a wonderful story of true life individuals who capture our imagination. They are flawed and fallible people, like all of us, and we find ourselves rooting for them to succeed. The acting is certainly top drawer; Meryl Streep is virtually a lock to get her 20th Oscar nomination for this part. And who knows, Hugh Grant may have found the elusive role to secure his first Oscar bid. This is a fun movie that makes you laugh, then tugs at your heart strings. One of the best films of 2016.
Dialogue Nuggets: Florence – “With our brave boys fighting, music matters more than ever.”
Florence – “It is true a lot of singers my age are in decline, but I seem to get better and better.”
Cosme to Bayfield – “I think Ms. Jenkins may need a little more preparation before we give a concert. She’s a little…flat.” Bayfield (Incredulous) – “Flat?”
Florence – “I played for the president when I was 8 years old. I had high hopes of becoming a concert pianist.”
Bayfield – “I was a good actor, but I was never going to be a great actor.”
NY Post Critic – “Music is important, and should not be mocked!”
Bayfield to Cosme – “You’re going to play at Carnegie Hall. How many people can say that?” Cosme – “Oh boy, we’re going to die out there!”
Florence to Bayfield – “I’m afraid.” Bayfield – “Don’t be. They love you.”
Best Scene: Watch for Hugh Grant to cut loose and dance to a rousing version of “Sing, Sing, Sing.”
In Case You Wonder: Yes, that is Meryl Streep doing all her singing. It takes a very good singer to pretend to sing that badly. As for Simon Helberg of Big Bang Theory fame, he really is playing that piano.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: WTF was going on in that party scene where they had a bath tub full of potato salad? Were potatoes considered a treat during war time rationing? The mind boggles….