Florence Foster Jenkins

I saw this movie in 2016 but have only recently posted the review because I wrote it in Facebook Notes which Facebook then threw away without warning. They then gave it back to me in the form of a ‘memory’ from five years ago, so I’ve retrieved it.

Yet another tour-de-force from the great Meryl Streep in the title role of the real-life wealthy music-lover whose dearest dream of singing in public was achieved thanks to the indulgence of her husband (Hugh Grant) and the many friends and hangers-on who didn’t have the heart to tell her the truth that she was a truly dreadful singer.

Florence Foster Jenkins has been a figure of fun and a legendary laughing-stock ever since her heyday in postwar mid-1940s New York, but as told here, she comes across as far more than a vain socialite rich enough to buy her way to fame and audience acclaim.  She’s a warm and generous and essentially lovable person, and the indulgence of her husband and others is only partly motivated by cynical self-interest. 

Interestingly, she did enjoy a considerable degree of commercial success, which probably says more about popular taste in music than her singing ability. 

I’ve always had a soft spot for Hugh Grant.  I’ve always loved his schtick: the charming, slightly shambolic but impeccably mannered Englishman with a nice line in self-deprecation.  Here he plays true to type, but with a maturity and sensitivity that has us utterly convinced that he genuinely loves his silly deluded wife even as he goes out partying with the smart set behind her back.  This may well be his finest performance.

Four stars from me!