Florence Foster Jenkins, an heiress from NYC, 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 Florence Foster Jenkins' performance at Carnegie Hall becomes a truly historic event.Written by
As of 2018, there are still 2 opposing theories as to the cause of Florence's "unique" singing style. Either, one theory is that it was actually a knowing stage act where she was deliberately singing badly to an invited crowd in on the bad singing gag, somewhat akin to the late British comedian Les Dawson's well-known out of key piano playing gags. The alternative theory is that some of the more extreme syphilis symptoms, maybe have caused problems, apart from her hand, such as deafness, tone-deafness, and maybe even affected her brain tissue, meaning that what she heard was far from what everyone else heard. This second theory could also part explain why she gave up the piano playing previously. See more »
Florence designed her costumes in real life, so surely she knows the accessories she wears with each costume. While dressing for the Valkyrie scene she asks for her amulets. St. Clair hands her the armlets that she wears during that performance and announces the correct term. See more »
St Clair Bayfield:
"Swounds I should take it, for it cannot be but I *am* pigeon-livered and lack gall to make oppression bitter, or ere this I should have fatted all the region kites with this slave's offal. Boody, bawdy villain! Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain! O vengeance!"
[applause, takes a bow]
St Clair Bayfield:
Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you, thank you. That was, of course, a speech of Hamlet's from a play I was lucky enough to perform in on several occasions, though ...
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Captivating biopic about "the worst singer of all time"
Florence Foster Jenkins, to put it mildly, was a notoriously inept singer, often screeching her way through songs (a prime example being Queen of the Night's "Der Halle Rache") with no ear for intonation, tone, meaning of song/text or rhythm.
It must not have been easy making Foster Jenkins somebody interesting or relatable, but 'Florence Foster Jenkins' manages to do so brilliantly. 'Florence Foster Jenkins' also does a much better job than most biopics to sticking close to the facts, having regard for historical accuracy, not leaving things rose-tinted and not having characters that are basically come and go vignettes.
Admittedly, some characters are more developed and interesting than others and some have little screen time. However, this didn't come over as a huge problem in 'Florence Foster Jenkins' because everything else was so successful. The 40s period detail is evocative, sumptuous and extremely beautiful to look at, and the film is exquisitely photographed and tightly edited.
The music is magnificent, with a score from Alexandre Desplat that fits superbly and sounds great on its own, Desplat's distinctively hypnotic style immediately recognisable. Also striking was how 'Florence Foster Jenkins' combined humour and pathos, it does so perfectly and both elements are brilliantly executed. The comedy is genuinely hilarious and the pathos masterfully moving. The direction does really well in making a potentially dull story dramatically engaging, warm and uplifting, one also admires Foster Jenkins' determination.
Best of all is the acting. Meryl Streep's performance in the title role is a triumph, making her a compellingly real character and succeeds in intentionally singing badly despite that in real life Streep is a far better singer (almost anybody is, well apart from the TV talent show rejects). Hugh Grant's performance here is one of his best, perhaps his best since 'About a Boy' and he has rarely been more nuanced or sympathetic in a role very much removed from his usual romantic-comedy roles. Simon Helberg's supporting turn is spot-on, instead of being annoying or too effeminate Helberg is hilarious, suitably camp and loyal.
Rebecca Ferguson similarly excels, David Haig relishes his deliciously shady and not too pantomimic role and Nina Arianda brings charm to a potentially shallow and irritating character. These roles are difficult to pull off but they are pulled off quite adeptly.
In summary, entirely captivating. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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