Meryl Streep is no stranger to the biographical period piece and showed she can hang with the best of them showing off her vocals in Into The Woods. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone the three-time Oscar winner shines again in her new film Florence Foster Jenkins. Although this role shows a different side of Streep’s singing prowess, which would make William Hung of American Idol fame proud.
Florence Foster Jenkins is a unique story of love and deception where the little white lies are apart of every day life for Florence (Streep) and her much younger husband St. Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant) who enjoys all of the heiress’ riches. Florence is a lover of music and shares that passion with the world. Only problem is Florence is unaware her voice could make babies cry, because her boy toy husband pays off, excludes and even sinks to the point of bringing in the hearing impaired so she can never find out how terrible her vocals truly are.
The fun starts in Florence Foster Jenkins when those fibs about the glass shattering sounds coming out of her mouth leads to the delusional socialite booking a gig for herself at Carnegie Hall. This sends her husband, who by the way leads a double life funded by Florence, into a tizzy as he tries to control the truth so his wife will not be hurt by the reaction when people hear her sing.
Grant gives an interesting performance as the man who comes across pretty scummy at first. Bayfield looks to only be after the money and fame, but you realize through Grant’s charmingly sleazy performance that he really does care about Florence and her feelings. It’s a different type of relationship and it’s one you may have mixed feelings on. Much like Florence’s voice, it’s not always perfect, but you admire the lengths one person will go through to protect the person they care for.
Grant is swell as the trophy husband, but Florence Foster Jenkins is held together by Streep’s awful voice. It’s amazing how bad Streep’s singing is in this role knowing how great of a singer Streep actually is in real life. It’s hard to fake just how bad Florence is, but Streep isn’t your normal actor. You’ll cringe, you’ll giggle and shake your head as Florence belts out the opera tunes to a perplexed audience wondering if she’s in on the joke or not. By the end you’re rooting for the oblivious dreamer, because you know the pain and struggle she went through to make it to that stage. Streep shows again in Florence Foster Jenkins she can take an average movie and make it an endearing good time with her unmatched acting skills.
Overall, I give Florence Foster Jenkins 3 out of 4 stars thanks to the stellar performance of Meryl Streep.
Read all T.M.’s reviews here–>Entertainment Now with T.M. Powell