Movie Review: 20th Century Fox's Florence Foster Jenkins

Florence Foster Jenkins
Director: Stephen Frears
Writers:  Nicholas Martin
Starring:  Rebecca Ferguson, Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant
MPAA Rating: Not rated
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Hashtag: #FlorenceFosterJenkins
The story of Florence Foster Jenkins, a New York heiress who dreamed of becoming an opera singer, despite having a terrible singing voice.

I have to say this movie was way more fun than I thought it would be. I mean, yes, it has Meryl Streep and Simon Helberg, but still…I didn’t know what to expect.

Florence Foster Jenkins was a New York City socialite who loved the arts (but loved singing above all) and actually did a lot to promote all types of art in the city. She donated a lot of money and even opened a music club where many plays and concerts were done. Florence, based on what I’ve read, was a very sweet and innocent woman who very unfairly contracted syphilis (which had no treatment back then) from her cheating husband. She was, above all, a very lovely woman.

This movie focuses on the later part of Florence Foster Jenkins’ (played by Meryl Streep) life, when she inherited money from her father –who, while alive, did not approve of her singing career –and was able to afford to start singing like she had always wanted to. By this time, she had re-married and had a, let’s call it, complicated relationship with her husband (played by Hugh Grant). You could tell they adored each other and he would do anything to make and keep her happy.

See, the little detail here is that…Florence couldn’t sing to save her life. She was super off tune and just sang awful. Some speculate that it was because of the side effects of the treatments available at the time for syphilis that made her that way, but, in reality, we will never know for all her recordings are from this time in her life. I think she was just an awful singer that, because she was so well known in the city, gave a lot of money (so people would kiss her butt) and helped the arts grow, that people would pretend to like her singing and would lie to her that she could sing well, so of course she believed it.

The movie basically starts when she decides she needs a pianist to play for her while she rehearses and at her recitals and concerts. This is how she met her accompanist, Cosme McMoon (played by the amazing Simon Helberg). This is one of my favorite scenes because Simon played it so amazingly in reacting to the awful singing of Florence (Meryl). By the way, it really is him playing the piano in this movie; he used to take lessons as a kid, and played it all the way till he was in college.

I have to say the attention to detail in the costumes and in all the décor was spectacular. I’m big into period pieces and into fashions passed, so I love seeing movies (or TV shows) with period clothing and seeing how people used to live before modern technology. This movie really looked like the late 30s-early 40s with all the intricate details they had in it.

What made this movie so entertaining and funny really were the actors. There’s no arguing that Meryl Streep is nothing but spectacular in all that she does! She was charming and sweet as the title character, but she was also capable of bringing out some of the biggest laughs throughout the whole movie. Hugh Grant –who I’ve barely seen any movies of –was also great. He had his funny moments, but, mostly, he was the sweet, devoted husband who really worked to assure his wife was happy, always. Then there’s my favorite from this movie, Simon Helberg. We all know him from his hit show “The Big Bang Theory” and how funny he can be. Well, in this film, he surely brings out that skill because his expressions and his acting in some of the scenes will make you literally laugh out loud. The chemistry between him and Meryl Streep was obvious through the screen, and they make a great comedy team.

This movie isn’t an Oscar-winner, but it is fun and funny and a nice story. It’s based on a true story –and those are my favorite. I would recommend this movie to those who, like me, like history and historical pieces, as well as sweet stories that don’t necessarily mean romance. It’s a movie about real, true love, friendship, supporting the ones you love no matter what, and it’s about knowing you can achieve your dreams if you truly want to.

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