After rocking out as an aged popstar in Ricki and the Flash and stretching her vocal chords as a delicious witch in Into The Woods, Meryl Streep is presented with her greatest musical challenge yet in Florence Foster Jenkins, starring as the titular socialite whose passion for music outweighed her genuine talent.
Played for laughs but bathed in a light of ultimate sadness, ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’ is a frothy biopic of sorts about art-scene royalty Jenkins who, in 1940’s New York, kept the music scene alive with her generous donations. A lover of all things musical, she opts for a grand return to the stage which would ultimately culminate in a sold-out show at the famous Carnegie Hall.
With the support of her husband (Hugh Grant) – who would keep her lack of talent a secret from herself by paying off top critics to troll out rave reviews – Florence searches for an accompanying pianist (Simon Helberg, a.k.a. Howard Wolowitz from TV’s Big Bang Theory) and forwards her plans by professionally recording one of her songs.
Despite how genuinely awful Jenkins was as a singer, and Streep certainly nails the wincing screech she was known for, you can’t help but get swept away in her enthusiasm for the art as the belief in herself is somewhat inspiring. The fact that her husband was bribing the audience to butter Florence’s bread is the real tragedy of this story but the total and complete love he has for her is enough to forgive him for allowing Florence’s career to go as public as it did.
Florence Foster Jenkins provides both Streep with yet another winning performance (is it too early to call an Academy Award contender?) and the audience with a sure-fire pleaser that will play as solid counter-programming for the blockbusters set to be unleashed this upcoming season.
Florence Foster Jenkins is in cinemas today.