Movies: Florence Foster Jenkins

Um . . . This was cute, I guess?

For those of you who only know about the big movies, this one is an Oscar bait flick starring Meryl Streep as the titular Florence Foster Jenkins, best known for being a terrible singer in the 1940s. In particular, the film focuses on Jenkins' desire to give concerts and sing at Carnegie Hall. After being moved to tears by seeing a young opera singer there, Jenkins—who evidently had more money than talent—hires a voice coach and pianist and begins to practice in earnest. And she is earnest. And easily taken advantage of by said voice coach.

It falls to Jenkins' life partner St. Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant) to do things like make sure the concert audience will only be kind and hide any bad reviews from the fragile Jenkins. It turns out that Jenkins is ill with syphilis, which she contracted from her first husband. So not only her ego is fragile, but her body too. She does not have a physical relationship with Bayfield, but they are devoted to one another. Except that he also has a girlfriend on the side. Facebook status: It's Complicated.

This film carefully treads a line between comedy and drama, and while it does so nicely, the end result is flat. I found it less than engaging. It wasn't funny enough, but also failed to pull my heartstrings so to speak. Grant does a marvelous job here, and Simon Helberg as the pianist is likewise really good. But on the whole, the movie did nothing for me.

I did wonder at some of the biographical changes that were made. For instance, Jenkins suffered her heart attack five days after the Carnegie Hall concert, not the day after, as suggested by the film. She died a month later. Also, though the movie shows Kathleen leaving St. Clair, in reality they married after Jenkins died. The end notes of the film made no mention of that. I suppose it's all in the service of story, but if you're going to do a biopic of sorts . . . ::shrug::

tl;dr: Meh. Needed to be funnier.

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