movies: florence foster jenkins

florence foster jenkins - the inspiring true story of the world's worst singer
Florence Foster Jenkins was "an American socialite and amateur operatic soprano who was known and ridiculed for her lack of rhythm, pitch, and tone, her aberrant pronunciation, and her generally poor singing ability" according to Wikipedia.

It's also a surprisingly lovely movie.

I only say surprisingly because I wasn't completely sure what to expect. It could have been done in a very "cringeworthy" kind of way, but thanks to the very delicate touch of Stephen Frears (who also directed, amongst many other things, Mrs Henderson Presents and Dangerous Liaisons, which is one of my favourite movies) it never ended up there.

Sure, it delved into farce more than once, but all three leads, particularly Meryl Streep as Florence manage the balance of comedy and, I guess, pathos requited brilliantly. It always amazes me how at the same time Streep can disappear totally into a role, but at the same time remain thoroughly Meryl. And I do enjoy when she does comedy.

A much, much older Hugh Grant (and I don't think it's make-up effects, although it could be) seems to have managed to leave many of his Hugh Grant affectations (most notably the stammer) at the door for the role of Florence's husband. And while it would be incredibly easy to hate his character early on, there's something about the way he plays it which makes you genuinely want him to succeed.

The most surprising to me was Simon Helberg in the role of (the very obviously gay, but closeted) pianist Cosme McMoon (it's a great name). I've only ever seen him in his role of the slightly creepy, perpetually horny Wolowitz on Big Bang Theory, but there's no trace of that here, and I'll admit, I fell in love with his portrayal of McMoon more than a little bit.

As with any "based on a true story" movie, a cursory glance at Florence's Wikipedia page point out any number of liberties that were taken with the story, but I don't even mind that in this case. The story is both hilarious and touching and also surprisingly deep in places (although some of those moments do go rushing by quite quickly)... it also made me laugh out loud more than once, albeit mostly in reaction to other character's reactions to Florence's singing.

It's definitely worth a watch though.

yani's rating: 4 sold out shows out of 5

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