Florence Foster Jenkins – Movie Review

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By: Erika Ashley

A wealthy socialite, Florence Foster Jenkins, lives her life to the fullest but decides to pursue another of her life long dreams of singing before her numbered days are up. With the assistance of her loving and devoted husband St Clair Bayfield, a newly hired pianist, and the best professional vocal coach money can buy she begins her journey and preparation for her debut concert. A select group of her dearest friends and confidantes cheer her on and provide the utmost support all the way to Carnegie Hall where a truly unsuspecting audience will see her real talents. The only catch is that Florence Foster Jenkins cannot sing.

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This period-drama-comedy retells a long ago story of how one woman fearlessly lived her best life every day as if it were her last because it very well could have been. The heavy underlying fact that Florence was not in good health but well-liked and respected by her adoring friends and loved ones only added to the melodrama of the already depressing situation. Meryl Streep’s enactment of Florence was flawless like her many other dramatic and comedic performances. What added to the humor was the realistic fact that Meryl Streep is a phenomenal singer and has proven herself as such in several other films. Hugh Grant played himself yet again as the stuttering well-mannered husband St Clair Bayfield, his one note acting was apparent as it seemed as though we’ve seen this character from Hugh many times before.

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The breakout actor amongst the big name stars like Streep and Grant is the up and coming Simon Helberg from the ever popular Big Bang Theory television show. In Florence Foster Jenkins Helberg plays her artistically soft spoken pianist Cosme McMoon. He does a wonderful job playing a suggestively gay musical artist that is just too sweet and caught up in the moment and money to break the truth of Florence’s lack of talent. In addition to the great acting was the detailed work that went into creating a stunning aesthetic that fit the period. When it comes to specific clothing, music, architecture and other important details it’s always disappointing when directors and art teams miss the mark, but for this film it was spot on. Director Stephen Frears pulled off a solid period piece and didn’t go over board or leave out any details.

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The only part of the film that was lacking was the story-line and length. At just under two full hours the story could have been handled a little better by means of pace. Towards the middle of the second act the story seemed to drag on a little and although the audience is forewarned of the looming end for the film and for Florence the end was somewhat abrupt and rushed. It was obvious but even though the audience knows what the end will be, getting there took longer than it should.

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In the end this film is certainly a full package – great acting, visually pleasing, and even though it gets heavy there are laughs and little nuggets of funny nudges that still make it a good journey. If you are not into comic book movies or would rather stay away from the upcoming R-rated films hitting theaters soon, I would definitely suggest a nice romantic date night to see this film.

Florence Foster Jenkins is rated PG-13 for brief suggestive material and has a 110-minute runtime.

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