Ringo Starr once sang, “What would you thank if I sang out of tune”, words that never meant more than when you hear Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep) sing. While everyone else knew what they heard, Jenkins always heard nothing but positive feedback. If you are wondering who Florence Jenkins is, she was a New York heiress whose only dream was to become a opera singer, the only problem she was not any good.
Jenkins didn’t know how she sounded because her husband, St. Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant) assured she was only surrounded by people who appreciated her talents. While those talents didn’t consist of a great singing voice, her passion for life and music more than made up for her flat voice. What added to Jenkins belief in her abilities was by only allowing “music appreciators” and newspapers that would give favorable reviews of her shows. As her confidence grew she became more bold, recording a private record that found itself on the radio, and by living her dream and booking Carnegie Hall. It was making that dream come true that Jenkins gave a performance that no one who saw it would ever forget.
“Florence Foster Jenkins” the film is a good story with exceptional talent delivering it. With Stephen Fears (The Queen) directing from Nicholas Martin’s screenplay and Streep and Grant staring, it would be hard for this story not to work. With that kind of confidence the film is charming and has a brightness about it as we watch someone with such a zest for life. With Streep leading the way, it seems everyone brings their “A” game, especially Simon Helberg, who as Cosme McMoon makes every scene he is in a little better with his reactions to Jenkins. Every note Jenkins hits will bring a chuckle out of you as your ears try and decipher the noise you are hearing. While it might be just a little off, most of the time this would not be music to your ears, there is something about Jenkins delivery that makes up for any faults. For most films the task at hand is to simply entertain you. “Florence Foster Jenkins” strives for more, as not only does it entertain you, it has a desire to brighten up your day, something it achieves in every way. No matter how often I see Streep on the screen I am always amazed at what a talent she truly is. Actors like her don’t come around often, someone who seems to slide so easily into every role she takes. See “Florence “ for the smile and laughs it will bring you, but stay for the greatness that is Meryl Streep.