• Review: Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)

    From Mark R. Leeper@21:1/5 to All on Mon Sep 12 18:35:09 2016
    (a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

    CAPSULE: In the kindest conspiracy of rich people we
    have seen in films for a long time, the members of the
    exclusive Verdi Club music appreciation society do not
    tell their leader, the eponymous Florence Foster
    Jenkins, that her singing is deplorably bad. Florence
    goes through life with her husband and her music
    accompanist protecting here from the painful truth.
    The script by Nicholas Martin, directed by Stephen
    Frears, is uneven. At times it is quite funny, but
    more of the time it seems aimless. While the lead
    couple are less interesting than we would want, the
    film is perked up by the presence of Simon Helberg as
    a piano accompanist with an extremely expressive face.
    Rating: low +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10

    Love means never having to say, "You have a terrible singing
    voice." At least that is true in upper class New York of 1944.
    The leaders of the upper crust belong to the very patrician Verdi
    Club, a sort of music appreciation society. The center of the club
    are Florence Foster Jenkins (played by Meryl Streep) and her
    husband St Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant). These are about the nicest
    wealthy people we have seen in films for a while. At the same time
    they are all conspirators. They all appreciate fine music, and
    Florence often sings for them. The conspiracy, led by Bayfield, is
    that they all share the secret that Florence is an absolutely
    terrible singer. And they all conspire to keep the secret from
    Florence. Nobody can let on to Florence that her singing is
    painful to hear. And everybody wants to make sure that nobody
    reveals to Florence just how bad her singing really is. Guests who
    laugh at Florence's singing are immediately ostracized and

    Bayfield suspects that eventually it will get back to his wife just
    how awkward her singing voice really is, but the script by Nicholas
    Martin gives Bayfield reason to hold off that time as far as
    possible. Bayfield's marriage to Florence has more secrets than
    just his wife's problem. Florence has medical problems and
    Bayfield has a girlfriend he does not want his wife to find out
    about. But the big secret in the film is Florence's level of
    talent and at times the secrets build on themselves and the story
    has a touch of Oscar Wilde humor. Some of the set-ups end in
    disappointment. There is a bit of a mystery surrounding a
    briefcase. We wait to find out the solution of the mystery, but
    when we get it, it just rates an, "Oh. Okay."

    Streep is very good in the title role, but the script fails to make
    her someone I would want to know more about. Jenkins is just a
    vain woman who has had something of a hard time and now has to be
    protected from her friends' true opinion of her. Streep also does
    her own singing, bad and good. Hugh Grant is really just playing
    an older version of a character he has played too many times, a
    role not very demanding of him. The surprise for me was Simon
    Helberg, playing Cosme McMoon. I see that he is a regular on "The
    Big Bang Theory" and has used that experience to hone his comic
    skills. His face is a sort of Greek chorus all by itself,
    commenting on the action of the story.

    The truth is that we come out of the film respecting how much the
    two main characters love each other, but their characters have not
    been enough filled out for us to be very touched by their love.
    They are nice people and you wish them well, but there is no
    chemistry between them, little sense of humor, and not very much
    empathy value. I rate FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS a low +2 on the -4
    to +4 scale or 7/10.

    [Note: I looked up Christian McKay, who played the hostile
    reviewer, and thought he looked a lot like Orson Welles. If I were
    making a film with Welles as a character I would cast him in the
    role. Looking his filmography I see that his first feature film
    role was in the film ME AND ORSON WELLES (2008) playing ... who
    else? ... Orson Welles.]

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying: <https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/florence_foster_jenkins_2016>

    Mark R. Leeper
    Copyright 2016 Mark R. Leeper

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)