Florence Foster Jenkins, an heiress from NYC, always wanted to be a concert pianist and play Carnegie Hall. An injury in her youth deterred that dream, so she sets out to sing her way to Carnegie Hall, knowing the only way to get there would be, "Practice, practice, practice". Her husband supports her venture, and Florence Foster Jenkins' performance at Carnegie Hall becomes a truly historic event.Written by
There's something rather wonderful about people who manage to do things incredibly badly - William MacGonagall, the world's worst poet, and Eddie the Eagle Edwards, the world's worst ski-jumper, spring to mind; but Florence Foster Jenkins is in the pantheon as the world's worst singer. I have a CD of the few recordings she made, and not the least remarkable aspect of Meryl Streep's performance is that she superbly captures La Jenkins' extraordinary singing voice. This, however, is only one part of a beautiful performance, in which Streep gives us a touchingly vulnerable Jenkins. I saw this film expecting to laugh - and indeed there are some great comic moments. What I didn't expect, however, was to find myself sympathising with the title character so much, to the extent that I found myself rooting for her - not to give a magnificent recital, but at least to BELIEVE that she had. Hugh Grant plays Jenkins' sort-of husband (they never actually married in real life, though the film implies that they did) and manager. It's a fine performance, and he's lost none of his ease with comic scenes. He also has some heartwarmingly touching scenes in which he gives Jenkins the (platonic) love she is so desperate for, and when he tries to shield her from the truth. Even so, I was never quite sure how to reconcile this side of his character with the double-life he leads without Jenkins' knowledge. Simon Helberg is excellent as Jenkins' much put-upon accompanist, and Nina Arianda provides a good turn as a gold-digger who displays some unexpected heart. Highly recommended.
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