Florence Foster Jenkins

Directed by Stephen Frears

Starring Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg, Rebecca Ferguson and Nina Arianda
In UK Cinemas May 6th, 2016

by Joanna Orland

Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant make a wonderfully charming pair in this lighthearted depiction of the world’s worst singer – Florence Foster Jenkins.  Streep plays the aforementioned singer, giving yet another remarkable performance in the form of a caricature of what this woman must have been like.  While her vocals are, er, stunning, it’s really Streep’s chemistry with co-star Grant who plays St. Clair Bayfield, Jenkins’ doting husband with a double life, that makes this film worth the watch.

Any scene shared by these two is what earns this film every accolade it may get.  So much so that it is a shame that other prominent characters are added into the mix, including Bayfield’s mistress Kathleen (Ferguson) and even moreso Jenkins’ pianist Cosme McMoon (Helberg).  As the film starts with the charming exchanges between Florence and St. Clair, it’s almost a shock once Cosme is introduced, with The Big Bang Theory‘s Simon Helberg in a creepily subdued performance.  This is not just a case of miscasting, but also very bad character development.  Luckily Streep, Grant and their relationship are at the forefront of the movie to endear the film’s audience as much as the real Florence must have endeared hers.

What Florence Foster Jenkins film could be complete without singing – if you can even call it that.  Meryl Streep wailing as the beloved and very flawed vocalist is fun to watch, and luckily not quite as shrill as the true Florence, who the audience gets a taster of in the end credits.  As director Stephen Frears reveals Florence’s vocals quite early in the film, there is not much to play with for the remainder, outside of Jenkins’ delusions and Bayfield’s hapless attempts at concealing the truth of her talent from her.

Even though there is little meat on the bone of this film, Streep and Grant give Florence Foster Jenkins the voice she always thought she had.



Leave a Reply