Film review: Florence Foster Jenkins (4 out of 5)

Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant in Florence Foster Jenkins
Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant in Florence Foster Jenkins

Never let it be said that Meryl Streep has played it safe during her amazing career.

She has revealed her extensive repertoire and even last year provided a remarkable singing performance in Ricki and the Flash.

And now she has shown she can sing badly - but on purpose (no mean feat).

Her latest movie is based on the true story of Florence Foster Jenkins, a New York heiress and major patron of the arts, particularly music.

Cosseted in luxury, while the second world war still rages, she dreams of singing her beloved opera and to entertain all her friends.

The trouble is, despite the best training available, she can’t sing.

But her devoted husband St Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant) won’t tell her the truth and she is surrounded by people who either don’t know better or, again, don’t want to hurt her feelings.

The problems come to a head when Florence decides to perform for the troops in Carnegie Hall.

What will the reaction be? Will her heart be broken?

Director Stephen Frears’ movie is a delight and mixes comedy and drama equally effectively.

Writer Nicholas Martin has said he removed some of Florence’s more negative character traits for the film and Streep does come across as a vulnerable deluded woman rather than someone using her wealth to get what she wants.

Hugh Grant is excellent as St Clair, a man determined to make his wife happy and to ensure the public don’t discover a sad secret that has encouraged her to find solace in music.

The Big Bang Theory’s Simon Helberg plays her pianist Cosme McMoon superbly and proves he is most definitely not a one role wonder.

Rebecca Ferguson has a small but vital part to play as a friend of St Clair and the rest of the cast all slot in well.

Overall it’s an entertaining movie about an extraordinary public figure, albeit with the sharp edges removed.

Film details: Florence Foster Jenkins (PG) 110mins

Director: Stephen Frears

Starring: Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg

Screening courtesy of Horsham Capitol