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Florence Foster Jenkins Movie Review

Florence Foster Jenkins: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD cover art
Florence Foster Jenkins is now available on home video. Read our review of the Blu-ray combo pack.

Florence Foster Jenkins (2016) movie poster Florence Foster Jenkins

Theatrical Release: August 12, 2016 / Running Time: 110 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Stephen Frears / Writer: Nicholas Martin

Cast: Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins), Hugh Grant (St. Clair Bayfield), Simon Helberg (Cosme McMoon), Rebecca Ferguson (Kathleen), Nina Arianda (Agnes Stark), Stanley Townsend (Phineas Stark), Allan Corduner (John Totten), Christian McKay (Earl Wilson), David Haig (Carlo Edwards), John Sessions (Dr. Hermann), Brid Brennan (Kitty), John Kavanagh (Arturo Toscanini), Pat Starr (Mrs. Vanderbilt), Maggie Steed (Mrs. James O'Flaherty), Thelma Barlow (Mrs. Oscar Garmunder)

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Florence Foster Jenkins tells the true story of an operatic singer who lacked vocal talent but had an abundance of money. Being born into the latter enabled her to surround herself with people who politely chose not to acknowledge her limitations,
instead supporting her endeavors, often to some personal gain.

Oscar nomination record-holder Meryl Streep plays the title character, a socialite who is highly regarded in certain circles, including a club she personally founded, despite her woefully off-key soprano singing. Among those turning a blind eye are Florence's husband St. Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant), an English gentleman who claims the couple has an understanding regarding his living and sleeping in an apartment with a much younger woman (Rebecca Ferguson, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation).

Set in 1944 New York, the film documents the final year of Jenkins' life, as she finds a dependable pianist/composer in the ever-nervous Cosme McMoon (Simon Helberg of "The Big Bang Theory"), makes a personal recording that becomes a unlikely radio hit, and even gets to perform to an enthused sell-out audience at Carnegie Hall.

"Florence Foster Jenkins" stars Meryl Streep in the title role as a wealthy singer who can't sing very well.

Florence unfolds with its one joke being repeated again and again. Miss Florence can't sing well at all, but no one has the heart, gumption, or financial near-sightedness to tell her. Her elderly contemporaries love her and Florence loves to sing and has no trouble attracting audiences. And so, she sings and enjoys it.

As it turns out, though, Florence's health is failing. The syphilis she contracted from her first husband on their wedding night is finally causing her fatigue some fifty years later. Though instructed to scale back activity for her health, Florence cannot help but continue to chase her dream.

Having proven she could sing capably in Mamma Mia! and Into the Woods, Streep here demonstrates that she can also sing poorly. If that makes you laugh, then you should enjoy the movie like the older crowd who spent much of the evening howling with laughing at my packed screening. If not, it's a long 110 minutes that continues to see Florence mangle her every attempt, Cosme try to contain his tittering while being unable to suppress incredulous facial reactions, and Bayfield acting like nothing occurring is out of the ordinary.

In St. Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant)< Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep) has a husband who is emotionally present but often physically absent.

Streep's enduring stardom has been rather remarkable. At 67, she continues to land meaty leading roles and in movies that the public tends to take note of. On the basis that there are so few substantial lead roles for women
and so few movies that can genuinely be classified as either a Musical or a Comedy (let alone both), Streep has an excellent shot of picking up a staggering 30th Golden Globe nomination. A 20th Oscar nomination is probably a longer shot, not merely because Florence will have to linger in voters' minds months longer than most of the competition, but also because Streep would be up against dramatic actresses as well.

Although director Stephen Frears has twice landed Oscar nominations for Best Director (The Queen and The Grifters) and twice guided a film to a Best Picture nomination (The Queen and Philomena), it is unreasonable to expect anything like that from this rather lightweight period comedy, which will fare well with older moviegoers but less so with the public at large despite favorable reviews from most critics.

Buy Florence Foster Jenkins from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD / DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
Florence Foster Jenkins
Directed by Stephen Frears: Philomena • The Queen • Lay the Favorite • Dirty Pretty Things • Chιri • The Grifters
Meryl Streep: Into the Woods • August: Osage County • Julie & Julia • The Iron Lady • Doubt • Marvin's Room • The Giver
Hugh Grant: The Rewrite • The Man from U.N.C.L.E. • Did You Hear About the Morgans? • Four Weddings and a Funeral
Simon Helberg: The TV Set • A Serious Man • Mama's Boy | Nina Arianda: Rob the Mob • The Humbling • Midnight in Paris
Rebecca Ferguson: Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation | Now in Theaters: Pete's Dragon • Suicide Squad • Ghostbusters

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Reviewed August 12, 2016.

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