Now, Claudia seldom suggests films to me. Is this town not big enough for two Suggestors?
But one evening last week, I was feeling particularly down. Maybe on account of my possessions being stolen or being ruled by a cretinous landlord who doesn’t understand he has to comply with the law. In any case, this recommendation came at the right time.
Florence Foster Jenkins commemorates the life of an American socialite of the same name. She was famed for her rare recitals, access to which was restricted to personal invitation. The film stars Meryl Street; Hugh Grant and Simon Helberg (The Big Bang Theory). It explores the lead up to Jenkins’ final performance in Carnegie Hall.
I seldom write film reviews, so bear with me. I’ll try my utmost not to include any spoilers. Reviewing restaurants is far easier; all you have to do is remember all the ingredients from the dishes you sampled; record the general atmosphere of the restaurant; watch the waiters’ behaviour like a hawk; subtly enquire about the history of the restaurant for background and read a dictionary so as to never fall short of elocutions to describe culinary creations.
If you can get through the previous sentence, I’m sure I can get through this review.
Hugh Grant has the most overall screen time. He plays St. Clair Bayfield, an aspiring professional thespian and Jenkins’ second husband. Streep’s character, Jenkins, mirrors her spouse’s strife. Throughout her life, numerous misfortunes prevented her from becoming a concert pianist and professional alto opera singer. Indeed, Stephen Pile, historian, had this to say of her singing ability:
No one, before or since, has succeeded in liberating themselves quite so completely from the shackles of musical notation.
The film explores a tripartite train hurtling headfirst to its demise. Jenkins’ delusions about the majesty of her voice are supported by her husband going behind the scenes and bribing musical critics to protect his wife. All the while; McMoon (Helberg), the pianist hired to accompany Jenkins, fights an internal battle. He knows supporting Jenkins will bring about the end of his career. whom shall he choose?
I’ll now stop pretending I can review films. Essentially, this is an incredibly poignant story about trust; love and respect. These themes recur throughout the film. At one point I was in stitches of laughter, whereas at others I was in floods of tears. Florence Foster Jenkins is a rollercoaster of emotion. It shall delight and astound you in equal measure.
In summation, there is no conceivable reason why you shouldn’t watch this film. The acting; set; costumes (which in real life Jenkins designed herself) and plot are all of divinely high quality. And it might interest you to know that all the ‘singing’ is done by Steep herself and the piano accompaniment is played by Helberg.
Florence Foster Jenkins is a wonderfully textured and layered onion of brilliance. You won’t regret watching it.