Posted by: greercn | May 20, 2016

Florence Foster Jenkins

Rooms, costumes and people all look rather lovely. You’re in a hotel in 1944 New York City and then you’re in Carnegie Hall. It’s all bathed in luxury although reminders of World War 2 linger, in the shadows.

Our heroine Florence (Meryl Streep) believes she can sing, despite quite a lot of evidence to the contrary. Florence is rich enough that she can buy acolytes, audiences and anything she pleases. She’s even bought a devoted husband, St Clair, played by Hugh Grant, who gets to reprise his elegant cad act.

The first hour of this whooshes by, lifted by Simon Helberg as pianist Cosme McMoom. Each time Nina Arianda is on screen, as former showgirl Agnes Stark, the screen lights up. She’s fabulous and worth looking out for. Her sense of fun brings real joy to this movie.

As the story unfolds, it all depends on your sympathy moving between Florence and St Clair. Unfortunately, you wait for Agnes to come in again as, until she appears, you care much more about the lovely clothing and settings than you do about the people.

Much of this was filmed in Glasgow and Liverpool and this creates a fine substitute for 1944 New York City.

For me, the last part of the film fell a little flat. The rest of the audience at Stratford East Picturehouse seemed to be enjoying it much more than I did. Maybe the trials of the delusional rich mean little to me, even when they are given touching back stories?

It’s quite a knack to sing badly. But I never warmed to Meryl Streep’s performance, nor to Florence’s sad tale.

See it if you are really into beautiful clothes or just for Nina Arandia’s performance. And watch out for Georgina Morton who has a small but significant part.

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Responses

  1. Maureen Lipman didi a better job of singing badly in the stage show “Glorious”.

  2. She certainly did and I loved it. But Streep has a seedy charm here and I am not a Streep fan, as you know. For me the costumes and sets here were the real stars. It all looks like it feels silky.

  3. I just seen Florence Foster Jenkins today. The movie was disappointing for me. I was expecting much more considering how much I like Meryl Streep. I think this movie is just OK, but not great.

    • It disappointed me, as well.

  4. I just saw the film yesterday, as a little Friday afternoon treat before my fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants semester begins on Monday. I enjoyed the film more than Greer and the other commenters did. It is typical of me that *I* will enjoy a movie but at the same time be hesitant to recommend it to others (e.g. Topsy-Turvy, Midnight in Paris). I did enjoy the costumes, the sets, the performances, and even the shift in tone, with the poignancy creeping into the second half. It worked on me. Her entire adult life was ruined from age 18 onwards because of that despicable first husband, so her riches and self-indulgences didn’t annoy me. And I am willing to believe that she was hopelessly and innocently tone-deaf.

  5. Several of my friends really enjoyed it too. Your theory is interesting and does shed more light on the life she led. I wish I hadn’t seen “Marguerite” first as I think that’s a superior film about the same story. Thank you for the comment.

    • I looked up “Marguerite” and know that I would have enjoyed the film. I checked it out on Amazon.ca but still lack confidence that I would get a North America playable DVD. Anyway, time and money are getting tight, though ironically I never do, so if it shows up at my local Renaud-Bray, I will price it.

      • I saw it at a preview for members at Stratford East Picturehouse. You could probably get it on a pay-per-view channel? If I see an American edition, I’ll get it for you as I think you’d love it.


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