Sunday, August 14, 2016

Florence Foster Jenkins

There are those famous for good things and those famous for bad things. And then there are those whose claim to fame is being so terrible at what they do, it almost becomes good. It's a narrow field to begin with but such people exist.

Stephen Frears' Florence Foster Jenkins focuses on one such person. Its subject is the titular socialite (Meryl Streep) who has a deep passion for singing. The only problem is that she can't carry a tune if her life depended on it. That doesn't stop her from pursuing her dreams.

As Frears has previously done with the likes of My Beautiful Laundrette and Dangerous Liaisons, Florence Foster Jenkins shows there's more to the characters than they initially let on. It's made clear early on that Florence has her eccentricities (apparently a common trait amongst the wealthy, both real and fictional) but she's just like the rest of us: searching for that true calling in life.

But Florence Foster Jenkins isn't just Streep's show. Also in the film are Hugh Grant (at his best since perhaps About A Boy) and Simon Helberg (who steals the show during Florence's first singing lesson). Though the film is about her, it focuses more on those two men in her life.

Regardless of that detail, Florence Foster Jenkins is still enjoyable in a heartbreaking sense. Much like Ed Wood, what's initially perceived as a comedy is more of a depiction of someone who yearns for their moment in the spotlight despite not enough know-how to get and stay there. In other words, Frears' film is more tragic than comic.

My Rating: ****1/2

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