15 July 2016.
FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS ****
As I was watching this both touching and amusing story starring Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant, I kept thinking who could have made such a perfect film? (For I go into the press screenings as a “virgin”, wanting to know as little as possible).
Then the credits came on, and who else but Stephen Frears, the English master director of such varied films as “My Beautiful Launderette”, “Dangerous Liaisons”, “High Fidelity” or “The Queen” could pull it off so beautifully?
Actually, the French made a similar film last year called “Marguerite” about this true story of Jenkins, the New York society woman who was an atrocious singer with absolutely no pitch or rhythm but believed she was highly gifted, and made a spectacle of herself in the 1940s. She had come to great wealth from her father and lived with a devoted companion, the British St. Clair Bayfield, who was very protective of her.
Frears has managed to recount this strange story with both hilarity and great tenderness for the characters, of course heightened by the always brilliant performance of Meryl Streep as the confused but determined grande dame, and a surprisingly convincing and charming portrayal by Hugh Grant as her philandering but loyal love. Diminutive Simon Helberg (from TV’s “The Big Bang Theory”) is an absolute hoot as her incredulous piano accompanist. All three, including Frears, should be nominated for Oscars.
This is the film which you must catch this week – you will be delighted!
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.