Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases
Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins
Hugh Grant – St. Clair Bayfield
Simon Helberg – Cosmé McMoon
Nina Arianda – Agnes Stark
Rebecca Ferguson – Kathleen
My first impression of this movie after watching it is:
It was nowhere near as good as I expected. It’s quite boring and the only parts worth watching are the scenes where Florence (Streep) howls a song very loudly and out of tune.
Florence Foster Jenkins is worth watching – just for the vocal bits; the scenes where Streep wails as though trying to compete with the mating calls of a wild animal are just fantastic. The audience were laughing out loud at Florence rehearsing various pieces of music such as Der Hölle Rache from Mozart’s The Magic Flute with stunned characters looked on in total awe. But I can’t elaborate much more on this; viewers have to see this for themselves and embrace the absolutely shocking vocals. If Streep was trying to kill perfect melodies, she succeeded 100%. And with this came the dramatics; Streep can do no wrong – in anything. She’s an extremely versatile actress which shows here also. She adds to her general dynamics by delivering some emotional scenes. Probably the most memorable comes towards the end of the movie..
The scene where Florence performs at the Carnegie Hall is brilliant. It’s a collision of emotions; hysteria and hysterical laughing, shock, upset, surprise, even sadness. Because when the old warbler realises the audience are actually laughing at her inability to hold a note, she near-breaks down in tears whilst standing centre stage. I really enjoyed this scene for all its emotional tensity and one woman’s stark realisation that she might not be as good as she thought she was.
The backing cast are brilliant during this scene also; the horny Marines in the front few rows who are so sozzled on booze that they don’t hold back when voicing their displeasure at Florence. And the elder men and women who as well-mannered as they are, can’t hold up their image as they crack – and burst into tears of laughter. This added an enjoyable tension as seemingly mature, equisite members of society were reduced to complete messes as they displayed child-like behaviour. Florence certainly brings the house down as her own collapses around her.
But the movie without such scenes would have been absolutely shocking..
The opening scene of Florence Foster Jenkins is full of theatrics; Streep makes her entrance by being lowered on ropes from the ceiling of a theatre dressed as an angel (the audience were clearly fans as they found this moment hilarious, but I must say – it was witty). Leading up to this moment is Grant’s dramatic opening as his character St. Clair performs a classic monolgue (first bit of genuine acting I have ever witnessed from the actor, I was slightly shocked). All very entertaining, and then halfway through the scene the curtain closes so that Florence can prepare for her next scene. A rather fitting sign I thought; the curtain should have come down on the rest of the movie.
It really wasn’t the comedy I thought it would be. Apart from Jenkins’ almost chimp-like screeching during her comic vocal scenes, all you get here is a simple movie comprising of a string of scenes which see various actors, audience members and agents exit and enter rooms:
Florence stood listening to the radio in her lounge, which shifts into the next scene where St. Clair is playing golf, which shifts into the next where she visits her pianist.
St. Clair sat back in an armchair reading the newspaper.
Again, St. Clair stopping by the local newspaper stall in the street and talking to the vendor.
A social gathering at the Jenkins residence where a handful of people get lightly tipsy and St. Clair performs a short dance to everyone’s applause, whilst idle conversation takes place between random characters.
This movie was like a recreational, upmarket Big Brother whereby the residents of a small wealthy town are filmed – documentary style – going about their daily lives, with nothing major happening other than one of the residents entertaining people with her terrible singing. Florence Foster Jenkins contained very little substance and flowed at the same pace all the way through, ensuring its mundane scenes and boring dialogue between characters extinguish any hope of being an eventful feature.
Simon Helberg makes his mark as Florence’s accompanist Cosmé. He does good, ditching his hippy Big Bang Theory image to scrub up squeaky clean for the role of a 1920’s musician. He is fresh-faced and very sweet too, adding a nice dash of humour to back up Streep. Towards the end of the movie, Cosmé is late arriving at the Carnegie Hall for Florence’s biggest performance – his excuse being that he was jumped backstage by a group of horny sailors. Another moment that got the audience laughing.
Helberg is refreshingly different here; perfectly groomed and quiffed hair gives him a much nicer appearance than the Monkees stand-in you see in The Big Bang Theory. Very good. And some great eyebrows too.
Florence Foster Jenkins is one of those movies you’d find on a standard television channel mid-afternoon on a Sunday. It’s extremely tame and a bit slow, but makes for easy watching – just don’t expect too much from it. Do expect however, fantastically out-of-tune singing from Ms Streep.
At the end of the movie they play real footage of the singer herself – which was slightly disappointing as the real Florence didn’t sound anywhere near as bad as what Meryl made out in the movie. Weird.
The second she opens her mouth, you’ll love this movie. But the second she closes it, you’ll probably wonder why the hell you’re watching whatever it is you’re watching.
Not overly gripping, this one.