Review: Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)


It’s without surprise that Meryl Streep shines as Florence Foster Jenkins in Stephen Frears’ pleasantly amusing biopic of the tone-deaf socialite who fulfilled her wish of singing – if you can it call it that – in front of thousands at the Carnegie Hall. This is a biopic that favours frothy entertainment over tragic drama, thus the darker aspects of Jenkins’ life, such as her battle with syphilis, are never dwelled upon. The script, instead, is light on its feet, and director Stephen Frears’ paints such a classy picture that it’s hard not to fall for its charms. As well as Streep, Hugh Grant is a worthy match to her irrepressible talents as Jenkins’ devoted husband St. Clair Bayfield. It’s a part that stretches him beyond his usual rom-com shtick, which he handles with panache. It may not delve particularly deep into Jenkins’ life, but as a film about a woman whose dream it was to entertain others, despite her terrible voice, it’s a perfect soufflé.

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