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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Movie Review: Florence Foster Jenkins

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,

I was able to attend a screening of this film Monday night - which comes out August 12th in the States, but it was out earlier in England.  I saw the ads for it when I was in England earlier this year, but didn't make it to the theater.  It looked interesting ("Inspiring true story of the world's worst singer") and it stars Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant, so I was even more keen to see it.  It is based on a true story, but I've never heard of Florence Jenkins, so I really had no idea of what the plot would be going in.  My review will have some spoilers for aspects of the story, but nothing major and nothing about the ending.

I think what should be the appeal of this movie is the humor and the heart of the characters.  Definitely not the singing, because it is awful and goes on way too long.  Some of the instrumental music is very beautiful though.  But the humor felt flat to me all throughout the film.  I'm not sure what it was.  There were people laughing in the audience though, so maybe it's just not my kind of humor.  The incredulous reactions of people in the movie to Florence's singing was milked a lot though, and if felt a little much.

With the characters, it's established very early on that there were meaningful motivations for Florence, her husband St. Clair, and her pianist Cosme, to want to showcase Florence's (awful) singing, and their backstories were very touching, although there were moments when it was hard to sympathize with St. Clair, the husband.  But in a way I also found it hard to empathize with such self-delusion and manipulation, even though it made Florence so happy.  It felt kind of cruel actually, and I think that also helped diminish my enjoyment of the film.

One thing I really loved was the character of Cosme.  He was kind of thrown into being a pianist for Florence, not really aware she couldn't sing, but needing the job, and in the end, caring about her as a friend.  His character arc, and the humor of his reluctance to continue in the situation made him very endearing.

The movie isn't particularly memorable unfortunately.  It looks great visually - I loved the Forties New York era, and the acting was fantastic, but the humor was very hit or miss with me, and I didn't empathize with the characters as much as I wanted to.  It's too bad, because everything about this film seemed like it would be great entertainment!

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