Monday, September 12, 2016
Florence Foster Jenkins (Directed by Stephen Frears; Written by Nicholas Martin)
Florence Foster Jenkins always wanted to be a concert pianist and play Carnegie Hall. An injury in her youth deterred that dream. So she sets out to sing her way to Carnegie Hall knowing the only way to get there would be 'Practice Practice Practice'. Her husband supports her venture and the true story of Florence Foster Jenkins playing Carnegie Hall becomes a truly historic event.
Starring: Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg, Rebecca Ferguson, Nina Arianda, Stanley Townsend
Why I loved this film: The trailers would lead you to believe that it is a hilarious comedy about an old crazy woman who dreams of being a singer despite being tone-deaf. There are elements of that, of course, but there so is much more to it.
Do not get me wrong, there are a fair few funny moments, especially the first time we hear Jenkins screeching wildly, while we watch McMoon desperately trying to contain his laughter. This success is partially due to Nicholas Martin's organic and genuine screenplay, but mostly down to great casting. Simon Helberg is fantastic as the competent and camp young pianist, and Hugh Grant gives his best performance in years as Jenkins' devoted husband. But the movie belongs to Meryl Streep, who once again proves that nothing is beyond her. Each word she smoothly speaks, or screams, feels like her own as she embodies 'the world's worst singer'.
Technically, this movie is also impressive. The 1940s mis-en-scene is brilliant, from the outrageous outfits to the elegant decor and old-fashioned automobiles that inhabit wartime New York. The cinematography and editing keep the film moving (physically and emotionally), but Stephen Frears is the true genius, taking a story which could have been boring and turning it into something so amazing!
Frears has taken a sad, gentle, tender story and made it surprisingly feel-good, fun and enjoyable without shying away from the melancholy.