The movie Florence Foster Jenkins is based on a true story, Meryl Streep plays Florence Foster Jenkins, a 1930s New York City socialite. A major patron of the arts, lovable Florence dreams of being an opera singer. What she cannot hear is what everyone else can – Florence can’t sing. Due to her social standing and determination, no-one tells her truth. Instead, supported by her husband St Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant), Florence pushes on towards a huge public performance.
RATED: PG for mild themes and coarse language.
AUDIENCE: Fans of Meryl Streep will get a kick out of seeing her shriek and squeal as the aspiring yet dreadful singer. Fans of Hugh Grant will enjoy his on-screen commitment. Fans of opera will laugh and cry. Possibly at the same time.
WHAT’S GOOD: The real Florence Foster Jenkins is such an unusual, memorable woman that it’s no wonder a movie has been made about her. Streep is endearing as a woman who could have been mercilessly mocked. Similarly, the movie overall doesn’t attack Florence. The real find, though, is Grant. Despite St Clair having a questionable approach to marriage, his dedication to Florence is quite something – and Grant makes him credible and likable.
WHAT’S NOT: Hard to tell exactly what we’re meant to feel about Florence. As much as she’s not held up to ruthless ridicule, whether we’re watching a drama or comedy can be a source of steady confusion. Florence Foster Jenkins takes a while to warm up and, when it gets to where it’s going, can be a more limited and one-note tale than expected. Co-star Simon Helberg (The Big Bang Theory) is a distraction throughout; his facial twitches and needless mania are frustratingly adrift between scorn and sympathy.
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SPIRITUALLY SPEAKING: “Speaking the truth in love” is a commonly recited verse from the fourth chapter of the letter to the Ephesians (found in the New Testament). While the full context of that statement should be investigated to work out exactly what it’s on about, it’s still a guiding principle for life that most of us can agree with. Those closest to Florence don’t tell her the brutal truth, though – in love, or otherwise. While it can be extremely hard to tell someone the truth (especially when it is not what they want to hear), Florence Foster Jenkins does demonstrate why it can be more loving to be honest, rather than over-protective.
RELEASE DATE: May 5 2016