Copyright © 2016 by Paramount Pictures
Founder of the Verdi Club, Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep) and her husband, St. Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant) perform plays to their esteemed members. Despite her shortcomings, Jenkins recommences her singing lessons with vocal instructor, Carlo Edwards (David Haig) and accompanied by her newly hired pianist, Cosmé McMoon (Simon Helberg). She arranges an exclusive recital with attendees coming mainly from her club. Unaware of the audiences’ actual reaction to her singing, the New York heiress confidently organises a subsequent appearance at Carnegie Hall.
Lesson number one, if you have dreams, dream big. Specifically, Carnegie Hall big. Would it matter if you are reported in the tabloids as a national joke? Probably not. Should the overriding jeers submerging the cheers be any reason to quit and prove cynics they are right all along? If it did, will we ever be able to relish in Ms Streep’s hilarious impression of the world’s worst singer?
Honouring a celebrated icon, Streep is pitch perfect as the tone deaf soprano. Academy members must already be crusading for her 20th Oscar nomination. She imbues Jenkins with pathos and it transforms the slightness into a sympathetic yet determined disposition. That being said, it is being equipoised by many LOL and ROTFL moments (the latter literally has a spectator on fours, forgoing all formality).
The best actress of her generation has shimmered in ‘Mamma Mia!’ and ‘Into the Woods’ which only accentuates her commitment to sounding deliberately bad exquisitely. Fervent, I waited with bated breath until her first vocal session is in motion and it left me in tears for laughing so hard. Playing along to the charade is Bayfield, Edwards and later, McMoon.
Serious and sincere, Grant is invigorating as the devoted and protective Bayfield but securing Helberg is a steal to this British production as he offers slyness encased in awestruck bewilderment. McMoon’s increasing fondness for his employers parallels the film’s strongest aspect, thanks to Nicholas Martin’s thorough grasp of Jenkins’ illustrious life turning her more than mere high society.
Rated PG-13 for brief suggestive material