Florence Foster Jenkins

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Picture Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Florence Foster Jenkins was an heiress and a socialite who founded the Verdi Club for her love of music.  Music has always been a passion of hers, the very reason to breathe, so much so that she was willing to be removed from her fathers will just to pursue her interests.  Though her father eventually came around and she was placed back in the will, Florence Foster Jenkins did not relent in her pursuit of music, even when illness kept her from becoming the great performer she always dreamt of becoming.

Florence (Meryl Streep) is the founder of the Verdi Club, a group where music and opera lovers can gather and perform, sharing in their great love of music and performing.  Florence performs in many of the shows that the club prepares; however, she has never graced the audience with the sound of her own singing.  Florence’s manager and husband, St.Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant) is devoted to Florence, but it becomes apparent that something is not right in their relationship making for a rather odd arrangement until the truths are revealed to the audience.  St. Clair has managed Florence’s musical affairs for years without a hitch, but when Florence decides that she will put on a solo performance, St. Clair must scramble to try to keep things together.  The pair interview pianists to aid in Florence’s performance choosing Cosme McMoon (Simon Helberg) who is pleased to have been chosen by such well known music lovers.  Cosme even gets the pleasure of meeting the assistant director of the Metropolitan Opera, Carlo Edwards (David Haig) and Florence’s vocal coach but Cosme is flabbergast by Carlo and St.Clair’s praises for Florence’s singing skills when in reality she is an appallingly bad singer.

The film follows these true events and a glimpse into the life of Florence Foster Jenkins and this seemingly obscure lady and her story.  The relationship between her and her husband creates a complex and deep storyline which we get to glimpse as outsiders with the addition of Cosme McMoon.  There are many comedic scenes and on the surface Florence is a laughing stock of the town, but she is also an underdog and a lesson in following your dreams and your passions.  I would like to say that she battled against the nay sayers and came out on top, but it seems that either through her own ignorance or a combination of this and her husbands skill of covering things up, she went years without receiving any negative criticism about her singing, always believing she sang beautifully.

Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant and Simon Helberg create a masterful trio and were such a great pleasure to watch.  You can clearly gauge if your interests lay within the bounds of this film enough to know whether or not to steer clear completely, but if you are testing the waters with your toe and do have an interest in this genre I would suggest giving it a chance.  There are some slower scenes where your mind wanders, but the acting, the comedy and a tear or two make it an enjoyable experience and worth your time.

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