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A gently comedic story of love and deceit.
bob-the-movie-man4 May 2016
Perpetuating little white lies is part of everyday life and keeps society ticking over. But to what point is it acceptable to massage an ego with a dirty black lie. A real whopper. And is such a lie perpetuated by love? Greed? Or the pursuit of personal glory? This is the rather subtle sub-text behind the story of Florence Foster Jenkins.

Based on a true story, Florence Foster Jenkins tells the story of a truly awful singer (Meryl Streep), cossetted in her closed world of a 1944 New York hotel and pampered by her husband St Clair Mayfield (Hugh Grant), who is otherwise entwined with the sensuous Kathleen (Rebecca Ferguson). Together with ex-actor Mayfield, the wealthy Florence is the co-star of the show at her self-owned "Verdi Club" where she has a non-speaking role enacting various 'tableau' scenes. But in the interests of following her dreams she recruits the help of famous singing instructor Carlo Edwards (the marvellous David Haig) and an enthusiastic and personable young pianist Cosme McMoon (Simon Helberg, "The Big Bang Theory"). Carlo is aware of what he is in for (he wants to keep the arrangement 'on the quiet'); Cosme is not (to great comic effect).

This classic re-telling of 'The Emperor's New Clothes' ultimately takes us on a journey to a packed concert at the Carnegie Hall, where many of the tickets have been given away to rowdy and drunk servicemen.

It's impossible to describe a film as "delightful… just delightful" without hearing the velvety tones of Hugh Grant saying those words. But that's what it is. A treat of moving and at times wildly funny storytelling from director Stephen Frears ("Philomena", "The Queen") that just works from beginning to end.

Meryl Streep is just glorious in the titular role, oozing charm. Those UK readers will probably fondly remember the piano playing 'skills' of the late, great comedian Les Dawson (google it for a youtube clip) who had to be an absolutely brilliant pianist to be able to deliberately play so badly. In a similar way, we know (from the likes of "Mamma Mia") that Streep knows how to belt out a good tune, so it requires some considerable skill to deliver Florence's songs as well (or as badly) as she does. Bravo Ms Streep, Bravo!

And Hugh Grant is often quite unfairly criticized for playing Hugh Grant in every movie (as if Tom Hanks and Harrison Ford are much different?), but here he turns in a totally sterling performance. The drivers behind Mayfield's character are never totally clear (and I won't spoil that here), but in the final reel the motivating factor becomes crystal clear, and Grant has never been better. (Bravo Mr Grant, Bravo!).

To round off the accolades for the lead performances, Simon Helberg turns in a genius comic performance as the goggle-eyed pianist, who lights up every scene he's in and delivers his lines (e.g. one about a naval encounter) with perfect comic timing.

Shining again in a supporting role is Rebecca Ferguson ("Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation") who once again is dazzling. Among the bright young acting newcomers of the likes of Vikander and Rooney, Ferguson (who is approaching her mid-30s) brings a level of sophisticated glamour and maturity to the screen that is strongly reminiscent of the great starlets of the 1940's and 50's like Kathrine Hepburn or Lana Turner. She is fast becoming one of my favourite actresses. Also worthy of note is Nina Arianda as gold- digging starlet Agnes Stark – effectively playing (at least at first) the "little boy in the crowd" in the Emperor's fable.

Written by TV-writer Nicholas Martin in his big-screen debut, the story is slowly and subtly unwoven, only progressively revealing the plot points in an intelligent manner. Other screenwriters take note: this is how to do it.

Cinematography is by the great Danny Cohen ("The Danish Girl"; "Room") and with the Production Design, Costuming and Special effects crew 1940's New York is vibrantly brought to life.

While the film's leisurely pace might make the younger set fidgety, this is a treat particularly for older viewers looking for a great night out at the cinema. The film got a good old-fashioned round of applause at my showing when the credits came up. "Delightful… just delightful". Go see it.

(Please visit http://bob-the-movie-man.com for the graphical version of this review and to comment with your thoughts. Thanks).
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If a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing badly.
Lomax34310 May 2016
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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Good movies are still being made folks
AlsExGal2 February 2017
This one pleasantly surprised me. Meryl Streep does a nice job as the real-life untalented Ms. Jenkins, who is surrounded by people who just want to make her happy. She hires a pianist (Simon Helberg, one of the geeks from "The Big Bang Theory") but no one will tell her how bad she is, least of all her husband, played by Hugh Grant. Inspired by the boys fighting in WW II, she cuts a record, then manages to book a concert at Carnegie Hall for the troops. (One flaw during the concert - the actress who plays Tallulah Bankhead is way too good-looking to be believable as the actual Bankhead.)

Streep pulls off the role very well. I found myself laughing at some of the voice rehearsals, but feeling a twinge of sorrow as this woman was trying to pursue a dream seemingly beyond her reach. Helberg is quirky as her pianist, who realizes she stinks, but comes around to supporting her. The big surprise for me was the performance of Hugh Grant. Just watch his eyes and you will see his every emotion, from his affection for Streep (despite his having an affair), his desire to make her happy, and his anguish as he watches her bomb. His performance is the most impressive.

Solid performances, good script, laugh-out-loud moments, and tender scenes. Good movies are still being made, folks.
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A tragic tale about mental illness told on an operatically grand scale.
CineMuseFilms4 May 2016
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 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.
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Dreams are worth living
PipAndSqueak14 May 2016
This is the most surprising film ever. You know it is about a woman who can't sing for toffee but who hosts huge concerts to not exactly appreciative audiences. Why on earth would this make for a compelling film? The surprising thing is that cast, script and direction are perfectly in tune with this compassionate biographical treatment of a woman driven to be the musician she dreams she is. Knocked by paternal disapproval, marital failure and physical illness, Florence 'thinks positive' and takes action. She knows what it is to suffer and is ready, at the drop of a hat, to do what she can to be of service to others via her self declared life-passion 'music'. It is both a joy and heart breaking to live in this woman's world. Meryl Streep is absolutely perfect in this role and makes this difficult story heart-rending and laugh out loud all at once. Definite go see!
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Very sweet
georgieavard15 September 2018
A very lovely and touching movie. Thoroughly enjoyed it. How could you not love Florence?
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A near career best performance from Streep
MOscarbradley10 May 2016
Surely only those with some knowledge of musical history and consequently at least some love of music, or perhaps a penchant for eccentricity like myself, will ever have heard of Florence Foster Jenkins, reputedly the world's worst singer, so without a ready-made audience why a biopic now, (two, if you count the new French film "Marguerite")? Maybe someone somewhere saw in this tale of a deluded grande dame a star vehicle for a talented actress of a certain age as well as an audience-pleasing combination of comedy and pathos and that's exactly what you get. No real knowledge of the subject is necessary to enjoy Stephen Frears' hugely enjoyable biopic "Florence Foster Jenkins" which combines comedy, pathos and a close to career best performance from Meryl Streep, (who else), to terrific effect and if you think Streep can play anything, in her sleep if necessary, pause a moment. On a technical level she may be the most versatile actress in the world but much too often she's been accused of failing to connect on an emotional level. I've always felt her Margaret Thatcher a great piece of mimicry but hardly worthy of a third Oscar and there are those who will claim that her Florence Foster Jenkins is nothing more than a shameless ploy for that elusive fourth Oscar. I will simply say that if she is to win that fourth Oscar surely it has to be for this great performance. Streep clicks on every level; this a tragic-comic performance of the first water in which Meryl never puts a foot wrong and yes, technically it's a marvel too with Streep doing her own appallingly off-key singing, (no mean feat for an actress with a superb voice). This isn't just the best thing she's done since "Doubt" but one of the best things she's ever done.

Amazingly it isn't all a one-woman show; the big revelation here is Hugh Grant as Jenkins' husband, the man who loves her, you might say exploits her, and does his best to protect her. It's the least Hugh Grant-like performance of his career and he's never been better. Likewise "The Big Bang Theory's" Simon Helberg as Cosme McMoon, Jenkins' accompanist, is outstanding in a difficult role. It's also beautifully written by Nicholas Martin, looks great, (the period detail is spot on), and is very well directed by Frears. As we head into the silly season of superhero blockbusters and the kind of of films designed to keep the kids quiet in the summer months this splendid biography may be the last good movie we will see at our multiplexes for months.
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The fat lady sings!
davidgee11 May 2016
A kind of 'companion piece' to THE KING'S SPEECH. After the monarch who couldn't speak publicly we are invited to meet the soprano who should never have sung to an audience. This is the more-or-less true story of the 1940s New York socialite who seemingly did not know how monumentally awful her singing was. Florence Foster Jenkins was a Woman of Substance in more than one sense: a mega-rich heiress, built like a leaking sandbag and possessed of an immense ego.

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!
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Captivating biopic about "the worst singer of all time"
TheLittleSongbird6 August 2016
Florence Foster Jenkins, to put it mildly, was a notoriously inept singer, often screeching her way through songs (a prime example being Queen of the Night's "Der Halle Rache") with no ear for intonation, tone, meaning of song/text or rhythm.

It must not have been easy making Foster Jenkins somebody interesting or relatable, but 'Florence Foster Jenkins' manages to do so brilliantly. 'Florence Foster Jenkins' also does a much better job than most biopics to sticking close to the facts, having regard for historical accuracy, not leaving things rose-tinted and not having characters that are basically come and go vignettes.

Admittedly, some characters are more developed and interesting than others and some have little screen time. However, this didn't come over as a huge problem in 'Florence Foster Jenkins' because everything else was so successful. The 40s period detail is evocative, sumptuous and extremely beautiful to look at, and the film is exquisitely photographed and tightly edited.

The music is magnificent, with a score from Alexandre Desplat that fits superbly and sounds great on its own, Desplat's distinctively hypnotic style immediately recognisable. Also striking was how 'Florence Foster Jenkins' combined humour and pathos, it does so perfectly and both elements are brilliantly executed. The comedy is genuinely hilarious and the pathos masterfully moving. The direction does really well in making a potentially dull story dramatically engaging, warm and uplifting, one also admires Foster Jenkins' determination.

Best of all is the acting. Meryl Streep's performance in the title role is a triumph, making her a compellingly real character and succeeds in intentionally singing badly despite that in real life Streep is a far better singer (almost anybody is, well apart from the TV talent show rejects). Hugh Grant's performance here is one of his best, perhaps his best since 'About a Boy' and he has rarely been more nuanced or sympathetic in a role very much removed from his usual romantic-comedy roles. Simon Helberg's supporting turn is spot-on, instead of being annoying or too effeminate Helberg is hilarious, suitably camp and loyal.

Rebecca Ferguson similarly excels, David Haig relishes his deliciously shady and not too pantomimic role and Nina Arianda brings charm to a potentially shallow and irritating character. These roles are difficult to pull off but they are pulled off quite adeptly.

In summary, entirely captivating. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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A delight
Figgy66-915-59847012 May 2016
12 May 2016 Second Film of Choice at The Plaza Dorchester Tonight - Florence Foster Jenkins. I was very much looking forward to this film, and it did not disappoint. It is the story of Florence, a woman devoted to music and passionate about singing. Unfortunately she cannot sing. Money however seems to buy you what you want and Florence hires the best teacher and along with a pianist (played by Howard from The Big Bang Theory, and quite wonderfully too) strives for her dreams in a very single minded fashion. Streep is the most versatile and accomplished actress of her generation and as we have seen many times before can turn her hand to practically anything. Hugh Grant who usually bumbles his way through a film with his Britishness and buffoonery came across as a tender and caring man who loved his wife deeply, and would do anything to prevent her from being hurt. Along with a simply spiffing score this film was a delight from start to finish, all the more poignant because it was based on a true story.
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Streep is too good at being bad, and the story is great, but that's it, that's it
secondtake1 January 2017
Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)

There certainly are reasons to see this movie, but they won't make this a great movie. It's a good movie, though, and good fun. Based on a very true story, the rise of this very bad singer into popular consciousness is worth telling.

As always, Streep is virtuosic. Maybe that's a problem in a way, because they depend so much on her being convincing and compelling that they use too much of her. Impossible? Not at all—the plot is simple enouch as it is, and it stalls with long sections of Streep singing really badly really well. It's not easy to be bad on purpose. But it you itch for more sometimes.

Hugh Grant? An interesting and not quite canny casting move (is this a problem with having more than one casting director?). He's stretching himself slightly out of the typecasting he's been stuck in (successfully) for years. And it actually clicks pretty well, and yet isn't quite a fit for Streep. Or for the time period (WWII New York, more or less).

You can read the remarkable details of this woman's life elsewhere—and in the final credits—and it's what holds it all together, of course. But this is a movie, and it doesn't fill in and make vivid the experience (the movie experience) fully. You'll see. Enjoyable but ultimately thin.
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What happens when serious music is turned upside down?
huckthing11 May 2016
The film is based on the true story of the New York socialite Florence Foster Jenkins. In 1944 she hired Carnegie Hall to perform as a soprano soloist. With no musical ability whatsoever but a large inheritance to enable her to indulge her love of performing, Florence Foster Jenkins becomes an unwitting musical clown which sustains the comedy throughout the film. The character is played with gentle comic affection by Meryl Streep.

Hugh Grant is well cast as Florence's doting and enabling husband St Clair Bayfield. It is to Grant's charisma and acting ability that he is able to portray an adulterous scoundrel who is milking his wife's inheritance and turn it into a devoted and loving husband. His brilliant charm offensive is one of the remarkable things about the movie.

Hazel Finn
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A Perfect Film for the Subject It Covers
joe-pearce-122 June 2016
I found this, for its subject, a perfect film - an absolute delight from every possible viewpoint - the story and screenplay, the acting of everyone down to the most minor player, the gorgeous A production, the hilarity so well balanced by the bittersweet sadness of the story and life of its protagonist, the obvious love with which the entire project seems to have been imbued, etc. A few anachronisms and time lines are not fully defined: All of the action takes place in 1944, and while we learn that Madame Jenkins has been part of the musical scene in New York City for a long time, one gets the impression that singing is only a recently-acquired mania on her part; in actuality, she'd been doing private concerts for better than a quarter-century. Perhaps in an effort to not confront the age of the main characters in the story, she tells her doctor that she acquired her ruinous syphilitic condition at 18 and has lived with it for almost fifty years, thus indicating she is now in her mid-60s, but she was 76 in 1944. She tells how she met her 'husband' in 1919, but she actually met him in 1909, so that they have been together for 35 years (Mr. Grant's relative youthfulness in comparison to Madame Jenkins's age is never really commented upon, but he certainly would not have been able to carry off the illusion of a 35-year relationship looking like he does). Cosme McMoon did not come upon the Jenkins scene in 1944, but almost 15 years earlier, and had worked with her for years. Arturo Toscanini did not conduct the NBC Symphony for a youthful Lily Pons in 1944 (Pons was then 46) and he certainly did not need a thousand dollars from Jenkins to make that concert a reality; the NBC Symphony/Toscanini broadcasts were totally paid for by NBC and/or any sponsor the programs might pick up. Richard Crooks was not a host of The Voice of Firestone, but its leading tenor for many years, and he did not act as any kind of disc jockey on weekends (we are told that his constant playing of Jenkins's first record on the radio "over the weekend" vastly entertained the listening audience of American servicemen). I point out these straying-from-facts incidents only for the sake of accuracy; they do not impinge in any way on the totally joyful experience that this film constitutes, and the compression of many years of events helps lead more easily into the one great Carnegie Hall concert that is the centerpiece of the film. One expects great acting at all times from Meryl Streep, but Hugh Grant fully equals her in effectiveness, if not in the difficulty of achieving it, in his role as her only somewhat younger 'husband' (the real Bayfield was 69 in 1944). The actual story revolves as much, if not more, around him than it does around Jenkins. It is a beautifully judged and rendered performance, by far his best work in film, and he has been away much too long. The third lead, Simon Helberg as Cosme McMoon, has some of the funniest moments in the film, but by the end, he has eschewed a certain kind of comic shtick to present us with a very real character who, in his own way, loves his employer almost as much as does her 'husband'. Much has been written about Rebecca Ferguson as Bayfield's girlfriend on the side, but the other outstanding performance in this film actually belongs to Nina Arianda as the peroxide blonde wife of a rich businessman, totally uncultured, uncouth, loud and vulgar. You start out by hating her, but by the end of the film, she has proved to be one gutsy and lovable lady - besides which, she has the single funniest moment in the entire film, one that had the packed-house audience with which I viewed it in loud paroxysms of laughter. What makes the movie so sad while simultaneously inducing such hilarity is the perfect realization (thanks to that screenplay and Streep's uncanny way with lines) of just how much Jenkins loves music - not her singing in certain areas of it, but music itself. Her left hand having been partially incapacitated years earlier, at one point in the film, in her sole visit to McMoon's apartment, she sits and plays the right-hand portion of a Chopin piece while McMoon stands to her left and provides the left-hand portion she cannot even attempt. Her love of what she is playing, what she is hearing, and what such culture means to Humanity is quite overwhelming. Streep does all her own singing, and it is a dead-on impersonation of what we can hear of Jenkins, except that, when the real Jenkins is heard at the start of the closing credits, you realize that Streep, off-pitch vocalization, screams and all, still has more natural voice than did that dear and deluded society lady. Near the end, we are exposed to something involving the utmost in film imagination - Jenkins lying in bed, and hearing herself singing in her mind, with her voice not heard as others hear it, but as she has always heard it for herself - pitch-perfect, non-screaming, a valid interpretation - and this to a lovely concert piece now forgotten by all but collectors of vintage recordings, "When I Have Sung My Songs", by Ernest Charles. And, in case we've forgotten or have never known it, we realize that Streep can really sing beautifully in a light lyric soprano voice. Given the amount of talent she already possesses (she is surely the dominant actress of her time), it is almost insulting to the rest of us that she should be able to sing so well, too. I loved every minute of this film and cannot recommend it highly enough.
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Has no business being as fantastic as it is
Lockout_Salties6 May 2021
Today is the 5th anniversary of the release of Florence Foster Jenkins, and in honor of it I'm writing this review.

Florence Foster Jenkins is a tragically overlooked film featuring one of Meryl Streep's finest performances to date. It brings tears to my eyes like few films have, and also manages to be gut-bustingly hilarious. It is not merely a film about a rich, terrible singer who happens to be delusional: it's also a meditation on the nature of criticism, honesty, and happiness.

With the wrong actress, the entire movie could've fallen apart. Florence could've come off as vain and selfish, and the audience wouldn't have rooted for her. Obviously, this would've made the film intensely frustrating, as the whole thing is people pulling strings to keep the false veneer that she's a great singer intact. But with Streep, Foster Jenkins becomes a kind, considerate, and oh so saddening person. Her life has been full of struggle after struggle and because of that you really want her to be happy. Of course, this makes it all the more challenging when you hear her (amazingly awful) singing for the first time, and you laugh at her. You're laughing at her along with the hordes of crowds that mock her and cause her sorrow. In short, the greatest part of the film is Streep's performance.

Another great part of the film is the writing. One of the standout moments from the film doesn't even have Foster Jenkins in it: one of the main characters goes on a long diatribe about how ambition is a prison that keeps you from being happy. Instead of feeling cheap and studio-driven, the speech actually comes across as really insightful. Moments like these are peppered throughout the film and they only add to the experience.

This film is not perfect. The editing is a bit choppy in places and the actor for Cosme McMoone is a bit lacking. But despite all its flaws, this movie is deeply touching. You'll laugh at Streep's singing, you'll cry at the heartbreaking ending, and you'll be greatful for the emotional roller coaster this film sent you on. It's perfect for everybody: you can watch it with a partner, niece, nephew, son, daughter, parent, or even by yourself. Hopefully, one day, this movie will get the recognition it deserves.

Final Score: 92/100.
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Entertaining but loses much of the complexity available
pauhaa18 October 2018
I think describing FFJ as "the worst singer ever" is unimaginative and also missleading. She was after all someone who took the probably enormous trouble to learn arias that would take great skill and technique to master. They are not easy to sing "badly", or to even get through at all. Consequently Meryl Streep's vocal performance here is amazing. But the film shows some lack of imagination as well: how about the mystery of how aware Jenkins really was of the quality of her singing, which could hardly be described on a simple axis from bad to good? Also, wasn't Jenkins herself active in creating her own little bubble of audience and her public persona? Here, St Clair Bayfield is shown as single-handedly managing and protecting her, which creates a dynamic both troubling and simplistic.
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A good time with a lot of laughs and strong performances by Streep and Grant
I was umming and ahing for quite some time whether to see this or not after first hearing about it, and once I saw the first trailer. But as it was directed by Stephen Frears, I felt that was enough to give it a go. Also, anything starring Meryl Streep is worth thinking about seeing at least. Also, the trailers seemed to purposefully hide her voice as that is the main part of the story. That was good marketing as I feel it will attract to hear how bad her voice really is.

Some of you may have already seen a film earlier this year with the same story called Marguerite. Sadly, I did not. But it is always a fascinating thing when two films are released pretty close to each other talking about the same thing. One recent example was when Snow White And The Hunstman, and Mirror Mirror: The Untold Adventures Of Snow White were released in 2012 a couple of months apart. I don't know how these things happen, but it always a nice topic to discuss.

It is not often that I see a film at the cinema that gives me a lot of laughs as most straight-out comedies do not appeal to me. But I can now add this one to the small list. I have been fascinated by this true story since I heard about this and Marguerite being made. The film does explain that in parts. But I think it is comedy that was winning me over early on. For the rest of the film, I had a big smile of my face and was pretty satisfied with how everything ended in the end.

I really liked the old fashioned feel to it and I can see it being a big winner with the elderly cinema-goers. Also, the production design of the time period was great to look at. It is set in 1940's New York and it felt great to look at with the steam flying off the street and the style of cars was a delight to witness.

Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant are wonderful together and are the biggest draw out of the other performances. I appreciate Streep's performances more than love them. However, I really liked this particular leading role. It is probably because the performances reminded me so much of the character of Hyacinth Bucket from the sitcom, Keeping Up Appearances. Hugh Grant was great and made me forget how good an actor he is, especially in comedies. His posh British voice fitted into the time period perfectly and you can feel that Grant was born into the wrong era. Simon Helberg was a real crowd-pleaser as the main supporting role. I was really happy to see Rebecca Ferguson back on the big screen. She was brilliant in Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, and I am glad to see she her getting noticed.

The only negatives worth mentioning was probably some of the running gags in the film felt like they were running out of steam towards the end. Also, there was a small part to Streep's character that I did not like about. So there was a part of the film where I could not sympathise to root for the character.

But all in all, I had a very good time. It was certainly a good decision to go and see it in the end. It was a lot funner then I thought it would be and the strong performances of Streep and Grant certainly helped that. It does have a sitcom style of approach to the story and I think that will please the audience and will do well in the box office. However, I still don't feel that they explained how the main character became so popular or why she is much loved. But I will still recommend this, especially if you are in the mood for a few laughs.
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Florence Foster Jenkins
cultfilmfan13 August 2016
Florence Foster Jenkins, is the wonderfully unique story of a New York heiress whose great love in life is music. She has several groups and gatherings that she goes to which are all dedicated to music and her lifelong dream is to be an operatic singer herself one day. Florence having the money and with the support of her husband, Clair, not only sets up music and singing lessons for herself, but also enlists the work of a young pianist named Cosme, so that she can step ever further to reaching her dreams of performing in front of others. The only problem comes with the fact that Florence is no Maria Callas, and her singing leaves a lot to be desired and in other words, she really can't sing. Clair is too loyal and loving to break the news to her and everyone else seems to be avoiding the issue as best they can until the time finally comes where Florence's dream of performing may well come true. But with everyone knowing that this is not really a gift she truly possesses will they tell her the truth and crush her dreams and determined spirit of reaching this goal, or will they sit on the sidelines and allow what could be harsh criticism, or even public embarrassment to follow? People who are familiar with this story (and as bizarre as it may sound it is a true story) may well know the outcome, but for the sake of viewers such as myself who have never been acquainted with this story, it truly is a remarkable story and also one of the year's strongest films. Florence is played by the ever capable Meryl Streep, who seems to pull off every role she attempts to great perfection and playing Florence Foster Jenkins is no exception. There is a reason why Streep is considered one of the greatest living actresses and she not only allows us to have a chuckle, or two at Florence when we first hear her sing, but she also gives so much more depth and insight into this character than you may be expecting. The film could have easily been a nasty, or derogative look at Florence by criticizing her lack of musical skill, but instead the film is really more of an encouraging and triumphant film about a woman who has had setbacks in life, but does not allow that to hamper, or turn her back on her dreams no matter what the cost. Even though we hear Florence's singing and know that it is nothing great, after a short while we soon stop laughing at her and go the exact opposite route by cheering her on and truly and sincerely wanting her to achieve her goals and hoping to ourselves that the end outcome will be a pleasant one. Florence is a woman with passion, but also deep down has great love and ambition for music and her love of it as well as truly loving Clair, although their relationship is at times a little complicated, which you will learn while watching the film. Clair is a fascinating character and in his own way has also tried out for the arts in his life, but in some ways similar to Florence, he has never truly achieved his dreams, or the breakout success that he was hoping for. While his relationship with Florence, is a tad unusual (again see the film), he is still a completely loving and doted husband to her. He will also stop at nothing to see Florence's dreams come true and if anyone says otherwise he will kindly pay them off in hopes of them thinking differently. Their marriage and screen chemistry together is really quite heartwarming at times about a couple who would do anything for each other and you can see that their love is definitely genuine. Hugh Grant, who plays Clair, went out of semi retirement to play this role for the simple reason of being able to act alongside Meryl Streep, and he gives what I think is one of his best all time performances. What a wonderful role and performance to come out of retirement for and he truly shines as a well intentioned man who has even better intentions and well wishes for what is ultimately best for his life partner, Florence. This is a film where every single performance from Streep, Grant and Helberg to the various supporting players are all superb and everyone does a fantastic job. The film also makes us want to stand up and cheer and support Florence every step of the way and again instead of being a judgmental, or critical film of her, you can tell that the filmmakers are also with her every step of the way as are we the audience and this is truly a inspiring film of reaching out and daring to dream no matter what anyone else says, or tells you that you cannot do. The rest is history and this is truly a story that needs to be told and one of the year's best films and a true triumph in every step of the way. Tremendously entertaining, well acted, filmed and also a film of hope and encouraging us all to reach for our best every day.
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Much better than I thought it would be, in fact a very moving film
richard-178728 July 2016
I knew the Florence Foster Jenkins records from college back in the 1960s, and a very little of her story. I guess I imagined this would be a raucous comedy making fun of a foolish and egotistical society woman - though why would Meryl Streep bother with that? I was wrong. While this movie is often very funny, it is also very moving, a good script well acted by Hugh Grant and very beautifully acted by Ms. Streep, who creates a moving human being out of someone who has been a caricature for decades.

I was also impressed by the historical work done on the era, such as Richard Crooks' Firestone program on the radio.

In short, this is a very well made movie, and definitely not just a bad joke. I have no idea if the story it tells is true, but I don't much care, either. The story is very moving, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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A Touching Love Story about Riches
mathmaniac17 May 2017
Meryl Streep can play any role. This is evident when you see her turn the story of a delusional heiress into a retelling of a tender romance.

Florence Foster Jenkins, because she was so wealthy, could afford to pay people to praise her. Instead, she wanted to earn their adulation by singing great operatic arias. There may be reasons why she could not hear her own voice as clearly as others could. No excuses - she loved the music too much to think that her heart would not make up for any technical failings in the execution of song.

The wonder is that the story becomes a love story, not an operatic 'Dumb and Dumber.' Hugh Grant's character, Florence's husband, at first seems to be a duplicitous continental gigolo. The viewer soon learns that this judgment is facile.

Because this is a true story, it's impossible to say that the plot makes no sense. Of course it makes sense - in real life, some nonsense makes sense.

Florence could have been a vain scatterbrained doyenne, blind to the feelings of the people around her. The scriptwriters make sure that you understand, eventually, that she is not that person. Getting to realize takes a gradual unfolding of the plot that makes you want to protect Mrs. Jenkins. Outwardly, she is a matron dressed with good taste and panache. Inwardly, she is a delicate flower. Meryl Streep shows this nicely.
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Florence Foster Jenkins 1868-1944
bkoganbing23 April 2017
I don't think that there is anyone even among this film's biggest fans out there who think this is an accurate portrayal of the life of the eccentric Florence Foster Jenkins, patron of the arts who decided she belonged in them rather than fund them. Still this outrageous character is interpreted broadly and loudly by Meryl Streep and there's a lot of laughs between the pathos.

Growing up I remember there was a kid who loved baseball and was determined to be a ballplayer. The fact that he was more unathletic than I never fazed him a bit. Fortunately he was not rich either or he would have bought a team and put himself in the lineup. Reality did overtake him in his teens and he opted for another career.

There is also a classic Criminal Intent episode where rich dowager Claire Bloom who was briefly a child actress decides to finance a performance the way Ms. Jenkins does at Carnegie Hall. She killed to help get that career something Ms. Jenkins never did. Unless it was the work of several composers.

One thing that was true in the film was that Jenkins did have syphilis acquired from a husband whom she kicked out. We're not sure that Hugh Grant's character ever was actually married to Jenkins. Still also accurate was that he was devoted to her and the lifestyle she provided for him.

Finally this biographical film is proof positive that a few bucks in the bank are truly the only difference between the eccentric and the crazy. I assure you I would have permanent residence at Happydale Acres if I took it upon myself to have a singing career. Edward Everett Horton would have a suite ready for me.

Broad, bold, and outrageous was Florence Foster Jenkins and that's how Meryl Streep plays her. It's the kind of role you can really let go and have a ball. Hugh Grant whom as he gets older is starting to resemble Cary Grant is perfect as her male companion/husband. Also pay note to Simon Helberg as her pianist accompanist who sort of joins the loony tunes express after a bit of persuasion. Meryl Streep got the latest in Oscar nominations for Best Actress and the film also was nominated for Costume Design.

An outrageous movie about an outrageous character.
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The Abuse of Florence Foster Jenkins
kijii9 January 2017
This is an unusually sick, sad and true-life story about a bunch of "sick" opportunistic people who took advantage of a mentally and, perhaps, physically sick woman merely because she was wealthy and demented and had no sense of what a fool she had become.

I can find no redeeming quality to the movie. It was not enjoyable, enlightening, or educational; it was just SICK! It you want to watch it once, go ahead. But I, for one, didn't like seeing a person being made a clown of simply because her disease made her engage in clownish behavior. If you want to see a freak show, go to the carnival--not the movies.

I have enjoyed Meryl Streep's work for decades and have loved her talent for taking on the roles of people we know and remember well. But, I have never seen her demean a real person as she did in this movie. Here, she portrayed Florence Foster Jenkins in 1944 at the age of 76.

Jenkins was a wealthy person who had contracted syphilis from her first husband, Dr. Frank Thornton Jenkins, at about the age of 18. After finding out she had contacted syphilis from him, she reportedly divorced him and never spoke of him again—although she did (privately) in movie. She did, however, retain his surname.

Her second husband, St Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant), takes advantage of her money and lack of self-knowledge about how terrible her singing ability really was. Later her pianist, Cosme McMoon (Simon Helberg), does the same thing. (Good people don't let their loved ones make fools of themselves, but they did.)

However, it was not just the people closest to her who lived off of her and laughed at her. There were many famous people of the day that were also enjoying her sick foolishness too. These people included Arturo Toscanini (John Kavanagh), Lily Pons, Cole Porter, Tallulah Bankhead, and even Enrico Caruso (not portrayed in the movie). Many of these same people came to Carnegie Hall to hear her make a fool of herself.

According to Wikipedia:

"At the age of 76, Jenkins finally yielded to public demand and booked Carnegie Hall for a general-admission performance on October 25, 1944. Tickets for the event sold out weeks in advance; the demand was such that an estimated 2,000 people were turned away at the door.[20] Numerous celebrities attended, including Porter, Marge Champion, Gian Carlo Menotti, Kitty Carlisle and Lily Pons with her husband, Andre Kostelanetz, who composed a song for the recital. McMoon later recalled an "especially noteworthy" moment: " (When she sang) 'If my silhouette does not convince you yet/My figure surely will' (from Adele's aria in Die Fledermaus), she put her hands righteously to her hips and went into a circular dance that was the most ludicrous thing I have ever seen. And created a pandemonium in the place. One famous actress had to be carried out of her box because she became so hysterical."

Since ticket distribution was out of Jenkins's control for the first time, mockers, scoffers, and critics could no longer be kept at bay. The following morning's newspapers were filled with scathing, sarcastic reviews that devastated Jenkins, according to Bayfield. "(Mrs. Jenkins) has a great voice," wrote the New York Sun critic. "In fact, she can sing everything except notes ... Much of her singing was hopelessly lacking in a semblance of pitch, but the further a note was from its proper elevation the more the audience laughed and applauded." The New York Post was even less charitable: "Lady Florence ... indulged last night in one of the weirdest mass jokes New York has ever seen.

This, to me, is a callous thing to do. I think the movie is callous too. This is not a comedy, it is pathos. Laughing at this movie would be a bit like laughing while watching The Elephant Man.
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Do not watch this movie for the following reasons...
Dr_Sagan25 September 2016
This the true story of a New York heiress who became an opera singer despite her painful to the ears voice, and complete lack of technique.

It is not a bad movie per se, but I regret I saw it, and I advise you to avoid it.

There are a lot of things that bothered me.

First of all, it is 24h since I saw (and heard) Meryl Streep singing purposely out of key, and it still brings me the chills. Honestly, after the initial laugh, her discordant voice it sticks in your head in a bad way.

Secondly, this is a truly sad story, for so many reasons. I write a spoiler-free review, but the deceit, the lies, the adultery, the sordidness of the people surrounding this delusional (not to mention seriously ill) rich woman, is disturbing.

Some people might see a "love story" in this, but believe you me that is not true.

And there are no morals here. Quite the opposite.

Performances from Streep and Grant are OK, but not from the trained musician Simon Helberg, who has the exact tone of voice and mannerism of his character in "The Big Bang Theory".

Overall: A true story which is mostly sad. Not a bad movie but, for the reasons above, I advise you to avoid it.
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Flat and Predictable
room1022 September 2016
Meryl Streep as Florence Foster Jenkins in the true story about a rich woman who had no idea she's the worst classical singer of all time. Like Ed Wood, she was full of confidence, but unlike him she lived in a lie, being fooled by everyone around her.

Unfortunately, unlike the movie ED WOOD, the story is very thin. The characters have no depth and the movie doesn't tell you a lot more than the little that you may know before watching it, simply because there isn't much more than that. Like the real characters, the story is flat and predictable. Meryl Streep is OK in her role, but since the character has no depth, it's not that impressive.

The only thing that is amazing about this whole story is how a person could be so delusional about her lack of talent. The singing in the movie may seem exaggerated for comical effect, but this is actually as bad as the real Florence sang and it was that awful, butchering one classical piece at a time.

If you want to see a wonderful movie about a person who devoted his life for his passion, but unfortunately lacked any talent, watch Ed Wood instead.

With Hugh Grant and Simon Helberg.
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A very British movie about a very American woman
moonspinner5515 November 2016
Elderly heiress in 1944, a patron of the arts who often claims that music is her life, decides to make her operatic singing debut after a month of study--either unaware she has a terrible singing voice, batty and deluded, or simply indifferent to the possibility she might be a flop. Although "Florence Foster Jenkins" is well-coiffed, handsomely-produced and well-heeled, it's about a quirky American woman in New York City, and it's not just the British and Scottish locales substituting for America that help to dislocate it--the film has a very British sensibility, and is a bit too timid in taking us out of Florence's immediate circle (perhaps in fear of exposing the picture's origins). Meryl Streep plays the title role with her customary aplomb; she isn't a reckless actress--Florence herself was probably more apt to throw caution to the winds than is Streep--but she's enjoying herself here and works well with Hugh Grant (as her cheating-but-not-disloyal husband) and Simon Helberg (as her somewhat-embarrassed pianist). Stephen Frears directed, and he's lethargic at the start (with exaggerated cutaways to an audience watching a production in the theater Jenkins founded, silly reaction shots that could have easily been eliminated by a more nimble editor). However, the film picks up considerably in its second-half and proves to be an enjoyable piece of fluff. **1/2 from ****
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Singing so wretched I almost retched
metromm24 August 2016
For the most part, the characters in this movie only laughed at each other and I found that pathetic. So I didn't laugh at all. It's a true story that need not have been told, at least not by this cast and crew. I would have adored the mid-century scenes had they been shot from a vantage point that was the least bit interesting. In fact, I found ALL of the shots missed their mark. Hallways and rooms, streets and staircases that were cluttered or better yet empty were photographed dead-on, as with a point and shoot camera. I knew going in that I was going to hear off key singing but had no clue there would be sooooo much of it. I felt, from viewing the previews, that I would once again love Hugh Grant but might feel him mismatched to Meryl Streep. And I believe he was. If there was a show to be stolen then Simon Helberg is the brilliant robber as pianist Cosmé McMoon. But even he made me cringe pronouncing pianist (he said PEE-uh-nist) in an accepted manner but not the one that sounds like piano (piANist). Wish I could un-hear and un-watch this one.
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