The story of Florence Foster Jenkins, a New York heiress who dreamed of becoming an opera singer, despite having a terrible singing voice.The story of Florence Foster Jenkins, a New York heiress who dreamed of becoming an opera singer, despite having a terrible singing voice.The story of Florence Foster Jenkins, a New York heiress who dreamed of becoming an opera singer, despite having a terrible singing voice.
It's a gift of a part, and Meryl Streep goes for it at full throttle, combining elements of Ethel Merman, Hyacinth Bucket and Nellie Melba to stupendous effect. The supporting cast are also given juicy roles to wallow in and, boy, do they wallow! Hugh Grant's lightweight shtick works perfectly for Florence's second husband, who openly keeps a mistress but dotes like a puppy-dog on his ailing wife, indulging her musical delusion with a passion that fully matches her own. David Haig plays Florence's vocal coach in the manner of a pantomime horse.
Simon Helberg steals many a scene as her gay accompanist who finds it hard to keep a straight face but comes to be caught up in the typhoon of Florence's enormous self-belief. There are some delicious cameos among the members of the New York elite who support the fantasy with varying degrees of sincerity. The finale, Florence's sell-out concert at Carnegie Hall is a comedic if not exactly a musical triumph.
This is a slight story, crisply scripted, elegantly photographed and stylishly directed (by Stephen Frears). Streep steams through it like an ocean liner – there's more than a hint of Queen Mary the 'former first lady' as well as Queen Mary the excessively luxurious vessel. Yet another Oscar could easily come her way. In Dustin Hoffman's QUARTET I felt slightly cheated that the principals never actually sang. Here you look forward with a kind of awed dread to the moments when the fat lady sings!
- May 11, 2016